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September 18, 2021

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Alameda’s Chonky-Curb Protected Bike Lane – Streetsblog San Francisco

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

The city of Alameda has added a few more blocks of protected bike lane to its cross-Alameda trail on Clement Avenue, this time using what one official has dubbed “chonky curbs.” “These aren’t your run-of-the-mill 7-11 curb stops. Clement Ave got the chonky curbs,” wrote the city of Alameda’s Brian McGuire in a post on social media.

Thus far the chonky curbs have been installed on the three blocks of Clement from Lafayette to Willow, with a few more blocks still under construction. Streetsblog is waiting for more information from the city of Alameda on project timing and extent, and will update this post when it comes.

Update: 6:30 p.m. “…this separated bikeway is being installed by the developer of the Alameda Marina project along Clement Avenue between Alameda Marina Drive and Willow Street. The city is overseeing the project,” explained Robert Vance, City of Alameda Public Works.

“It looks like those Alameda curbs might have been installed using a method called doweled-in concrete, which is built on top of the roadway but held in place via posts embedded into the asphalt,” explained Bike East Bay’s Robert Prinz. “This is cheaper and faster than typical concrete installations, which require cutting into the asphalt, building the curb, and then filling in around it.”

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One of the rebar dowels used to anchor the new curbs

That certainly seemed to be the case, judging from the parts that are still under construction–and the bits of rebar piled up awaiting installation, as seen above.

Wood forms waiting to be assembled.
Wood forms waiting to be assembled.

This project represents yet another step in completing the cross-Alameda trail, which will eventually stretch lengthwise across the island city, much of it along the eastern shore and through several parks, where two-way protected cycle tracks work best. From the city’s web page:

The City of Alameda’s Cross-Alameda Trail (CAT) is envisioned as a premiere cross-town, low-stress, four-mile bicycling and walking corridor that will connect the west side of the island to the east, from the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point to the Miller-Sweeney (Fruitvale) Bridge. The CAT is being built in segments, with many segments in the design or construction phase, and some completed. The Jean Sweeney Park segment (0.6 miles) between Constitution Way and Sherman Street was opened in December 2018.

Streetsblog covered the completion of several segments of the trail in 2018: the segment through Jean Sweeney Park and the opening of the segment from Entrance Road to Paru in April.  In January of 2020, Streetsblog covered the completion of the segment from Poggi to Main. Construction crews are now visible between the remaining gaps as the entire project edges towards competition by the end of this year, according to the city’s schedule page.

A bioswell and drainage on the new segment.
A bioswale and drainage on the new segment.

Streetsblog is pleased to see a city not only building such an ambitious protected bike lane project, but protecting it with concrete from the jump–and taking it a step further, using the larger-than-normal specs of the chonky curbs.

“Oakland DOT has also been looking into similar doweled-in concrete installations for future protected bikeways, and they might be using this method for some upcoming protected intersections at West at 27th St. and West at West MacArthur,” added Prinz. “The initial cost of the concrete is more than the big K71 flex posts, but once maintenance expenses are figured in they’re pretty comparable. And based on some of the complaints we’ve heard about the “forest of posts” on Telegraph in Temescal, the concrete curbs might be more visually appealing, too.”

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“So we could see a lot more of this sort of construction happening around the East Bay, as cities start using more concrete for routine protected bikeway installations, while reserving flex posts for locations where they still make more sense,” said Prinz.

Speaking of making sense, Clement is frequented by large trucks and big rigs. In such a situation, concrete protections should be mandatory and it’s great that Alameda’s planners and officials realize this. This stands in stark contrast to projects designed by planners at some state and county agencies who continue to build infrastructure based on paint, wishful thinking, and a disregard for safety.

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Looking north on Clement Ave on a segment waiting for concrete to be poured

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