It’s a familiar scene to those who regularly bike or walk along the beach side of Shore Line Drive. Startled pedestrians jump, looking over their shoulders, after a bicyclist shouts, “On Your Left.” Bicyclists often need to stop or maneuver as parents struggle to pull children out of the way or blaring headphones drown out the cyclist’s call.
The city recognizes the problem and is trying to decide how best to serve the public while accentuating the prime location. Because it has received a Caltrans grant, the city has been focusing mainly on altering the striping and layout on Shore Line Drive to accommodate all. In addition to motor vehicle travel lanes, we need parking, bus stops, walking paths and bicycle lanes.
About 100 people gathered at Lum School on June 18 to discuss what might be done. It was the second of three meetings scheduled. Each meeting attempts to narrow the field of acceptable options to the community. Everyone there seemed to agree that the beachfront side of Shoreline is special and that having an asphalt trail that attempts to serve both pedestrians and bicyclists is far from ideal.
One option not considered at the meeting lies atop the sand dune, not on the street.
The mounded, landscaped sand dune along the entire beachfront was created in the 1980s to prevent erosion and act as a barrier to keep windblown sand and water off the street. The plants stabilize the dune. Why not construct a walking trail on top of that dune? It would offer pedestrians premier views of the beach. Cyclists could remain on the existing asphalt trail below. And, at the eastern end of Shoreline where the dune ends and the bird sanctuary begins, there is more than adequate right-of-way to continue the walking path.
A pathway of sorts already exists on top of the dune where shrubs have not taken hold – I walked it on a recent weekend and was amazed at what I had been missing during walks along Shore Line Drive. (See slide show below.) I can even imagine a boardwalk there.
Other agencies, such as the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), would have to approve the new walkway, but they would have good reasons to be enthusiastic about it. Maximizing shoreline access is a central goal of BCDC, and fostering greater use of park district lands, which includes Alameda Beach, is a central goal of EBRPD. The only downside I can see is that a different funding source/grant would be required.
Taking the “high” road option creates a walking path with the best views; utilizes the existing curbside trail for bicycling; preserves the current parking and bus stops; and allows delivery trucks and moving vans servicing apartments and condos to continue double parking in one of the westbound lanes.
The last meeting will take place in the fall. In the meantime the Public Works Department will take comments and suggestions.
Originally published in Alameda Sun.