Tube fixes a start, but cyclists say they need more options

Tube fixes a start, but cyclists say they need more options

Michele Ellson

Caltrans is preparing to make some fixes to the Posey Tube that could make commuting it a little easier for pedestrians and cyclists. But cyclists here said the work is only a small start on what needs to be done.

“Honestly, there is pretty much nothing they can do to the tube that will entice me, personally, to ride or walk through it again on a regular basis,” cyclist Cyndy Johnsen said.

Johnsen said she used to ride her bike through the tube from Oakland every day to get to a job in Marina Village. But Johnsen, now an Alameda resident, said the noise and poor air there are “just too much.”

She and Lucy Gigli of Bike Walk Alameda said they’d like to see more progress made toward implementing some of the ideas laid out in the city’s 2009 Estuary Crossing Study. In addition to tube fixes, the changes recommended in the study included a water taxi – which the study said would cost up to $4.15 million to design and build – and a new bridge, which would cost up to about $75 million to design and build.

“I would love to see the city take the next steps as outlined in the study, and think we'd see a dramatic increase in bicycling if something actually came of it,” Johnsen said.

Caltrans is moving forward on an $8 million retrofit project in the Posey and Webster tubes that includes a new guardrail and repair of the sidewalks in the tubes. The project is heading into the design phase, according to the city’s transportation coordinator, Gail Payne. (A Caltrans spokesman and the Caltrans staffer working on the project didn’t return calls seeking more information.)

Gigli said her organization asked Caltrans to install the new railing in a way that it gives cyclists and pedestrians a little more space to transit the Posey Tube; she said Caltrans agreed, making the path to and from Oakland a few inches wider.

She said the changes would offer a slight improvement for cyclists and pedestrians but that bigger changes like those outlined in the Estuary Crossing Study need to be made in order to encourage more people to bike or walk.

She said an Estuary Crossing Shuttle the city put in place in 2011 – shuttles were among the several options contemplated in the study, but not recommended – “fills a void” with its morning and evening commute runs, and that additional shuttle service funded by a transportation fee levied on the Alameda Landing project is supplementing it. But Gigli thinks that additional items, including more frequent and bike-friendly bus service and a bridge, are needed.

Johnsen said Caltrans runs a free ferry service in the Delta and also offers low-cost shuttle service for cyclists from the MacArthur BART station to San Francisco.

“Our situation seems very similar from a bicyclist's perspective,” she said.

Related: First Person: White-knuckle, black-lung biking


Submitted by Josh H (not verified) on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

Cyndy, the person they quoted, was spot on with her comment. There's nothing you can do to make breathing in massive amounts of car exhaust enjoyable for a bicycle rider! We need a bike/ped bridge, and we need one ASAP.

Submitted by 94103er (not verified) on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

"Johnsen said Caltrans runs a free ferry service in the Delta...."

That's interesting and all, but what does Sacramento have to do with this article?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

Hey 94013er - Johnsen brought up the ferries in the Delta as an example of what could be done to smooth the cross-estuary commute for cyclists. Apologies if that wasn't clear!

Submitted by Ketchup Fingers (not verified) on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

Why can't Alameda - Oakland/Jack London have a pedestrian bridge? What is the purpose of an inconvenient and filthy tunnel as the only pedestrian option? Here's a bridge used by many CSU Sacramento commuters: The Guy West Bridge is a replica of the Golden Gate and is a landmark of Sacramento.

Submitted by Keith.Nealy@gma... (not verified) on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

The problem is we have giant ships come and go through here. But we certainly need something to alleviate the traffic that thousands of new homes and businesses are going to produce in the coming years.

Submitted by Nicholas (not verified) on Mon, Oct 21, 2013

The tube is incredibly polluted by inefficient, poorly tuned and dirty vehicles. We ride bikes and it is scary to be near cars since air pollution has now been linked to cancer. The Estuary shuttle has lame hours and has left us stranded. Perhaps there should be a toll for all non-electric vehicles.