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Northside --> Oakland?

sorry if this has been discussed before. new to the forum, the city, but not biking. I'm trying to find an efficient, safe route from Northside to Oakland. Currently I do Northside>Downtown>Uptown>Oakland via Forbes. There's "plenty of space" on Forbes as I was scolded by a city official. But no bike lane or arrows. And it gets super sketchy right around the Birmingham Bridge exchange, up to Craft. I would have no problem taking my bike on foot, up the steps to 5th Ave, right underneath the Birmingham Bridge overpass. And walking it on the sidewalk the rest of the way. But not only does that defeat the purpose of biking, but both of the two stairways are officially and permanently closed/blocked off. Alternately I could take Polish Hill up over Herron, but that isn't really do-able for me on the way to work due to the condition it would leave me in after. Plus the roads up there are flat-worthy. And with the winter coming, it's not a terribly safe option. Any ideas?
2015-12-03 02:58:51
That's much the way I'd do it. Take the lane on Forbes, without apology. I hear you on the bit past Birmingham Bridge. I usually jump that lane divider to go up the empty lane. It's a bit tricky to pull off, and the equipment that's currently parked there doesn't help, but I find it preferable to riding alongside moving traffic in the other lane, which while posted 25 is usually 40+. The bigger question is how to deal with high speed traffic coming off the Parkway. First, make darn sure you are well lit in the rear. I prefer having one bright solid taillight and one reasonably bright blinky. Reflective strips on ankles and arms make you appear human. Drivers may be going fast, but they have a long several seconds to figure out that you are there and what you are. That said, I take the lane here, too, after ensuring there is a big space ahead of the next car, then I plant myself clearly in the center of the right lane, maybe even a bit left of center, and stay there. All the way up to Craft. Hope that helps.
2015-12-03 07:07:24
I might suggest Liberty Avenue as a way to get over the East End Hills. I would go into town on the 6th Street Bridge, take Penn all the way to the 16th Street Bridge, then get on Spring Way and head all the way up to Liberty. Liberty may be a bit of a long way around, but the hill is gradual enough that if you get into the right gear and keep pushing, you can get up the hill in a couple minutes. From Liberty I would take the bike lanes on S. Millvale down to Centre, turn left or right, then get on Bayard and come in the back way. Alternatively, if you wanted a more direct route, you could take the same route through the Strip, but then where you would continue going straight on Spring, turn right onto the 28th Street Bridge. You would then climb Brereton, which has bike lanes. From there, I would turn left on Herron, then right on Melwood and use that to come into the north-end of Oakland. I'm sure others on this board will have some ideas. Best of luck!
2015-12-03 07:08:43
I used to do this commute--for a time I lived in Fineview and worked in east Oakland. You could take the Jail Trail out of Downtown, then climb Neville or Joncaire into Oakland, but I found it adds nearly two miles, and of course it's not well lit or maintained in winter. The Polish Hill route I would take differs slightly from Jason's above by taking the left from Brereton onto Dobson, then a right on Herron and quick left on Melwood. Beware that construction on other routes has made this already over-used back-route especially tight these days. (Melwood is barely wider than an alley with parking, but it's being treated as a high secondary lately...) Centre is actually not a bad climb out of Downtown--it's the slowest, easiest way up that hill physically possible. And it's heavily enough used to be reasonably well maintained in winter. In the end, my usual route was Forbes, just like you're doing now, however. But, it's worth noting that it's perfectly legal to ride the sidewalk on the parallel stretch of Fifth past the Bridge/Parkway mess. I'd take Forbes through Uptown, cut left on Jumonville (just before Forbes dips to go under the bridge), then take the sidewalk on Fifth past the bridge and up to Craft, at which point I'd drop back down to Forbes. This is probably still the method I most often use to get to Oakland from downtown, though going through Polish Hill would be a close second.
2015-12-03 07:54:03
Thanks all. Some good points. Unfortunately I work by McGee, so taking Liberty really does add on double and change compared to the quick (dangerous) Forbes route. Guess I just have to wager what matters more to me. Buffalo- I like the 5th Ave sidewalk idea. And have tried it a couple times. But some of those slabs are in tough shape. My road tires didn't enjoy that. I ended up just getting off and walking, both times. Overall, has anybody heard anything in the works for a pedestrian exchange point near the Birminham Bridge mess? Or anything to migate the hazards of that area for bikers? I'm mostly asking because I'm fuckin sick of getting run off the road by (mostly) buses and people who don't get it. And its only been 5 months. I cant imagine the frustrations some of you must have. Two weeks back I almost got fully sandwiched by a bus over there, ended up taking a digger into a concrete wall. Not cool. I didn't call because I doubt they would give three turds. Definitely a frustrating scenario.
2015-12-03 12:04:49
I rode Squirrel Hill to the North Shore and west for over 12 years- almost always took the jail trail. Sometimes rode down Bates, but rarely up. I usually took the sidewalk as either traffic was completely stopped. It might have been a bit farther, but much less of a headache.
2015-12-03 12:34:48
That sucks. I'd call 911. Someone runs you off the road that's reckless driving, full stop. I don't jump the divider when I ride that way and haven't had issue... which I attribute to good luck. It's narrow for a pass by a bus and they will do that. You could try claiming the lane and just keep claiming the left lane so there's no negotiation required with traffic while you're climbing. You'd get horns and stress, but you'd be totally predictable and presumably safe because of it. I know Magee is on the right so that's another reason this is suboptimal, but given how out of the way the other options are, and given your experience, this might be the way I'd go.
2015-12-03 12:37:07
I work at Mercy Hospital and live in Oakland, so I ride through there most days. Sometimes I take Forbes, jumping the divider like Stu. I can't see staying in one lane with drivers that expect to go 50 mph when there is safe place for me to pick my own speed. I go over to the sidewalk where the parkway comes in. I used to take the road there, but with all the traffic above 40 and a good portion of it above 60 (and a lot the drivers being drunk) it just isn't worth the risk to me. I'm OK being on the sidewalk when I'm going my uphill speed (not fast). I'm courteous to pedestrians, even if that means stopping for a few seconds. The alternative is to take a side street (Jumonville por one of the next two streets)up to Fifth before the Birmingham Bridge and taking some combination of the bus lane or sidewalk up Fifth Ave. IIRC, the sidewalk there is offcially shared use. I'm careful about blocking buses, but sometimes they sneak up behind me. The cars entering the parkway are hugely irresponsible about yielding to traffic when they make their left there, but there are problems anywhere. (Why? Why? Why do they let these people continue to drive?) I'm not sure why you would think Liberty might be safer.
2015-12-03 13:05:38
It's longer, but I almost always do the jail trail to joncaire. It's just so much less stress and one short, but crappy climb. Easy enough to walk up the sidewalk if need be. I take bates if I'm in more of a rush, depending on the time of day. I avoid like the plague during rush hour.
2015-12-03 13:14:47
Has anyone ever tried Jail trail to Bates to Hodge>Mackey, and do the steps up to Lawn Street shown on Goggle maps actually exist or function?
2015-12-03 17:05:12
I've done it. It exists. I rather hate carrying my bike up steps, so I don't tend to think about them, but if your bike is light or non-awkward enough it could be doable. I recall Hodge/Mackie being rather steep, as well, and have a vague memory of the steps themselves being wooden rather than concrete, but I may be misremembering those parts.
2015-12-03 17:07:29
Cool. If that was functional, seems like it would be kind of spot-on for Brother Rebus.
2015-12-03 17:15:14
The route you describe is actually pretty good, from a climbing perspective; it's hard to beat. But the Parkway merge is a major pain. If you're willing to do the extra miles to the Junction Trail, there's even less climbing. buffalo^2's suggestion Centre is actually not a bad climb out of Downtown–it’s the slowest, easiest way up that hill physically possible. And it’s heavily enough used to be reasonably well maintained in winter. is actually good. You could then go on to Kirkpatrick-Bentley-Oak Hill-Terrace, which gives you several options for coming down to 5th. There's other options around there as well. Not sure about all-winter, but check it out.
2015-12-03 18:01:22
Yeah, if you want to go via the strip, you could take a shortcut through polish hill by going smallman to 28th, to brereton to dobson to herron to melwood to center to neville to bayard.
2015-12-04 10:10:44
@benzo, that's probably the route that I would take, if coming from the North Side. I've never ridden from downtown to Oakland via Forbes, mainly because of the Birmingham bridge/Parkway unpleasantness. I'd much rather take the long way through the Jail Trail and either do Junction Hollow and Joncaire or Neville, or go up Swinburne. I've always liked the latter, and especially since it was repaved this year. Then again, I don't ride on it during rush hour so I can see how it could be unpleasant with a lot of traffic going through it.
2015-12-04 10:42:31
Anyone know if there are any plans to add a lane in for this route? Or at least fix stairs before/at Birmingham bridge? I'd like to bring it up to somebody if not.
2015-12-10 02:47:02
What would really be nice is a good way to connect the jail trail to forbes ave at the birmingham bridge (creating a connection to the bike lanes on the bridge) and fixing the terrible conditions between the bridge and oakland. Maybe if/when BRT happens....
2015-12-10 14:23:15
That would be soooo nice. There's only a 25-foot vertical change between the upstream bridge and the trail. With a prefab ramp and a bit of labor to assemble it, I'd bet we're looking at a five-digit cost, maybe low-end-six to connect the two. The cost of a traffic light, roughly. This should be low-hanging fruit.
2015-12-10 16:56:38
There used to be a way to get off of the trail onto 2nd ave near bradys treet. Brady is aheck of climb, but puts you right at the Forbes Ave entrace to the Birmingham Bridge. Now, you have to go down to get from the trail to 2nd, then moments later try to reclaim those feet of elevation.
2015-12-10 18:48:19