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Oakland Plays Catch-Up On Bike Lanes

As rent prices in San Francisco have become unreachable for a majority of the population, many out-priced city residents have decamped for the East Bay, and Oakland in particular. Along with the new population, there has been an unprecedented spike in the number of bikes on the road. In fact, in the past ten years or so, census results show that the number of people biking to work in Oakland has risen an astonishing 140 percent.

While the number of cyclists in Oakland has skyrocketed, the city has been forced to meet this demand by making its streets more bike-friendly. A recent story in the Chronicle details how Oakland has added more than 30 miles of bike lanes in the past three years alone. The city now has 140 miles of bike lanes in total, and city workers report that Oakland is basically constructing bike infrastructure as fast as it possibly can. The city just unveiled a plan to build raised bike lanes along Telegraph Avenue, one of Oakland's busiest biking streets. The proposed bike lanes would be entirely separate from sidewalks, giving bikes their own space to ride.

Cyclists are taking full advantage of Oakland's recent improvements. Now that streets are becoming safer, a greater sense of community is growing around the city's residents. Biking has experienced an overall 15 percent increase just in the past three years. It's too early to tell whether bike accidents have been reduced as a result, but I would expect that the more bike lanes Oakland installs, the fewer bike accidents it will have to contend with.

Of course, bike lanes aren't the entire picture when it comes to making streets safer for cyclists. Potholes are a major issue, and Oakland just settled a case for $3.25 million for a woman who ran into a nasty pothole on her bike and suffered serious, injuries as a result. A portion of the city's bicycle infrastructure improvement budget of $350,000 is spent on filling potholes, but there's still an enormous backlog of about 1,000 potholes that need to be filled. In 2012, the city's streets ranked poorly in comparison to other cities in the Bay Area. Only Orinda, San Leandro and Albany fared worse.

Ultimately, in order to make streets safer for cyclists, Oakland is going to have to make streets safer overall. While constructing bike lanes is an excellent start, the city needs to make a concerted effort to fill those outstanding potholes and improve the general condition of its roads. When streets are unsafe for cyclists, they're generally unsafe for everyone.

Oakland has made some great strides here in helping to cut down on bicycle accidents, but there's still more to be done. The Law Office of Scott Righthand goes to great lengths to help bicycle accident victims and make sure they're compensated for their injuries. If you or someone you know has been in a bicycle accident, please don't hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

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