Our Backyard: Bring on the Bike Bridge
Alameda needs a green estuary crossing to accommodate thousands of new homes.
Illustration courtesy of Bike Walk Alameda
When 32 units of affordable housing recently became available at a new housing project known as Stargell Commons in Alameda, 12,000 people applied. The massive number of applications underscored not only the region’s housing shortage, but also people’s strong desire to live on the Island.
People in need of shelter will get more opportunities in the near future as the city moves forward with thousands of new housing units—both on Alameda Point and elsewhere. Alameda must build the housing to meet its regional housing requirements.
But when those homes—apartments, condos, and townhomes—come on line, it will add to the city’s traffic woes, unless Alameda works proactively to solve the problem.
Some residents have called for another vehicle bridge or perhaps a third tube. But those are 20th-century solutions. In the era of climate change and sea-level rise, Alameda should be looking at modes of transportation that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
One obvious answer is for Alameda to embrace a proposal for a new bike and pedestrian bridge between Alameda Point and Jack London Square. A bike and pedestrian overcrossing would surely inspire more people to get out of their cars.
As noted in “A Bike Bridge Too Far?” [January], the city first began looking at a bike bridge plan in 2009 but has failed to move forward on it, even though it has support among locally elected officials, including Assemblymember Rob Bonta, BART board member Robert Raburn, and Alameda Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Jim Oddie, and Malia Vella.
City officials have countered that a new bridge would be too costly because the Coast Guard wants it to be very tall due to fears that it would interfere with operations to and from Coast Guard Island. But there appears to be a simple solution to this problem, too: a less-expensive swing bridge that would swing open to allow Coast Guard vessels to pass.
Ironically, a little more than 100 years ago, there used to be a swing bridge over the estuary before it was torn down and replaced with the Webster and Posey tubes.
Alameda, in other words, can ensure a greener future by reclaiming a part of its past.
Our Backyard is an occasional column by senior editor Robert Gammon.
Published online on July 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM