Confusion Over Alameda “Bike Lanes” or “Outdoor Dining Area”
Alameda is taking steps to give downtown restaurants a helping hand in attracting customers. This move may eventually pave the way for better pedestrian and bicycle access too. But there has been some confusion in the implementation.
New Lines Painted for Outdoor Seating Areas
The city has redesigned Park Street to provide restaurants with socially-distant outdoor seating options. CBSN-TV reported on the efforts in the first full week of July 2020. The strategy to boost dining business during the pandemic takes a parking lane and a traffic lane on each side of Park Street and converts them into spots for tables and chairs along with some new parking spaces.
The newly lined and painted configuration turns Park Street into a two-lane road from Tilden Way to Encinal Avenue.
New Lines Look Like Bike Lanes
Unfortunately, Alameda County continues to be a hot-spot for COVID-19 cases so the restaurant dining spots weren’t taken advantage of in the first few weeks. Tables and chairs were largely absent. The newly painted lines sat empty for a while, but in a twist, some in the area thought the new traffic patterns looked a lot like new bike lanes.
Streetsblog wrote about the odd turn of events in a recent article. Lucy Gigli of Bike Walk Alameda thinks the new lanes should be permanent bike and pedestrian paths. She said in a post, “My new mantra. Keep the lanes for bikes and walking. Keep the lanes for bikes and walking. Keep the lanes for bikes and walking.”
Cyclists Encouraged to Use Lanes when Empty
Brian McGuire is a transportation planner for the city, he felt the need to clear up any confusion by confirming that they were not bike lanes, but on Twitter he did encourage cyclists to take advantage of the lanes while they were empty.
More Protected Lanes on the Horizon
This glimmer of hope for bicycle enthusiasts may be the real thing eventually. Similar redesigns are coming to Webster Street. And in further positive news, new biking lane plans have been on the agenda at city council meetings recently.
It may not be immediate, but with these new restaurant lanes, it’s getting easier to picture how Alameda would look as a cycling paradise.
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