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Tactical Urbanism Effort Improves Safety Around Bay Farm School

As the bell signaled the end of classes at Bay Farm School on a recent Monday, hordes of students exited the gates and joined waiting guardians, unlocked bicycles from multiple racks, and scanned the clusters of waiting cars for their ride home.

Alameda Post - a bike lake, traffic cone, and sign that says "No parking Bike Lane" in front of Bay Farm School
Cones and custom-made signage placed in front of Bay Farm School. Photo Ken Der.

The flurry of activity means that pick-up and drop-off can become quite hectic around the school. Drivers utilizing the drop-off loop must keep a watchful eye for students getting in and out of cars while also sharing the road with cyclists and navigating around other stopped cars. Students also cross the loop to access a group of curbside parking spaces on Aughinbaugh Way that effectively functions as an overflow pick up and drop off zone.

But the approximately 700 feet of total curb space has apparently been insufficient to meet peak demand, leading many drivers to wait in the bicycle lanes along Aughinbaugh Way despite “No Stopping Any Time” signage prohibiting such maneuvers. Obstruction of the bike lane not only forces young cyclists into the vehicular travel lane, but also places them in danger of being doored by inattentive car passengers or sideswiped by departing drivers.



Alameda Post - bike lanes with parked cars in them
Prior to cone deployment, drivers would commonly wait for students while parked in bike lanes. Photo Maria Piper / Bike Walk Alameda.

As the situation came to a head this year with the relocation of bike racks due to campus construction, Maria Piper sprang into action. Piper, a Bike Walk Alameda (BWA) Board Member whose two children currently attend Bay Farm School, worked with the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) to monitor the issue and then deploy a simple, yet effective solution to bolster parking compliance.

Alameda Post - a smiling cyclist and their child in a seat on the back of the bike
Maria Piper is a BWA Board Member and mother of two Bay Farm students. Photo Bike Walk Alameda.

Every weekday morning since early January, Piper and other volunteers have set up custom-made warning signs and placed small traffic cones inside the striped buffer between the vehicle lane and the bike lane. Another shift of volunteers takes down the tactical infrastructure after the school day is over.

“There are a lot of people who bike and we want to encourage more to do so,” said Piper. “It’s important to make routes to school safe.” She estimates that over 70% of students walk or bike to school.

According to Principal Katherine Crawford, feedback has been positive so far.

Alameda Post - a sign that says "Caution. Prevent dooring. Look for bikes before opening doors." A little graphic of a car and cyclist shows them getting doored.
Custom-made signs warn drivers to look out for bikes. Photo Ken Der.

“When I’m standing out there, parents and cyclists in the neighborhood have thanked me,” Crawford told the Alameda Post. “We have not heard anything negative.”

Guardians who bike along with their students offered similar sentiments.

“So far, I haven’t seen anyone park in the cones,” said Angelo Wickstrom. “Visuals are the elements needed to turn this around.”

“The cones have helped a lot,” added Jarrett Moyer, atop his multi-person cargo bike. “I feel a lot safer riding with three kids on the back of my bike.” He suggested that a managed pick-up/drop-off would be even more helpful.

Alameda Post - two adults and one child on their bikes ready to leave Bay Farm School area
Angelo, Clare, and seven-year-old Hue Wickstrom prepare to depart on their bikes. Photo Ken Der.

Ahead of the implementation, the Bay Farm PTSA distributed flyers with reminders, tips, and a map depicting biking and walking routes to school and nearby parking areas. In the medium term, the PTSA is hoping that the City of Alameda and the Alameda Unified School District could add crossing guards to nearby intersections, increase the visibility of bike lanes along Aughinbaugh Way with plastic posts and green paint, and paint the curbs red to clearly communicate the prohibition of parking to drivers. Crawford also mentioned that a project is in the works to paint a new centerline in the drop-off loop to create two distinct lanes.

Alameda Post - a map of Bay Farm School biking infrastructure
Biking and walking infrastructure, along with recommended park/walk zones, near Bay Farm School. Bay Farm PTSA map.

In the longer term, Alameda’s Active Transportation Plan (ATP) calls for fully separated bike lanes along Aughinbaugh Way, which will be a key corridor in the City’s “Low Stress Bikeway Vision Network.” The improvements could also substantially improve safety for students commuting to Lincoln Middle School or the main island, as well as multimodal travelers heading to the Harbor Bay Ferry.

Alameda Post - a map of Bay Farm including a lot of additional bicycle infrastructure including separated bike lanes and neighborhood greenway
Proposed bicycle infrastructure in Bay Farm. City of Alameda map.

In the meantime, Crawford continues to encourage active ways of getting to school.

“We are a nationally recognized Green Ribbon School,” she said. “Our goal is to have students bike and walk to school as much as possible and alleviate traffic.”

Piper and BWA are seeking additional volunteers to help with the effort. If interested, email [email protected].

Editor’s note, Feb. 27, 2024: Updated to remove projected completion dates.

Ken Der is a contributing writer for the Alameda Post. Contact him via [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Ken-Der.

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