In 2001, members of Alameda Open Space approached Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to learn about converting the abandoned Alameda Belt Line Railroad alignment into a multiple-use trail across the island of Alameda. Three years later, in 2004, individuals and advocacy groups in Alameda – including Bike Alameda and Pedestrian Friendly Alameda, the precursors to Bike Walk Alameda – formed the Cross Alameda Trail Steering Committee to plan and promote the trail with the Conservancy.
In 2003, the city received a Bay Trail grant to study the feasibility of the Cross Alameda Trail, which will be a segment of the Bay Trail. The city coordinated with the conservancy, which had developed a concept plan for the proposed trail, in its efforts. The feasibility study, which the City Council approved in 2005, envisioned a trail along the northern portion of the island constructed in five sections:
1. Main Street to Webster Street: A Class I path would be built along the south side of Appezzato Memorial Parkway on vacant property formerly used by the Alameda Belt Line Railroad.
2. Webster Street to Constitution Way: A Class I path would utilize and expand the existing sidewalk on south side of Atlantic Avenue.
3. Constitution Way to Sherman Street: A commuter trail alignment that maintains the existing Class II bike lane along Atlantic Avenue and a recreational trail alignment that would be constructed as a Class I path through the former Alameda Belt Line railroad yard.
4. Sherman Street to Grand Street: A commuter route that consists of bike lanes along Clement Avenue and recreational train alignments that could consist of a bike route along Sherman Street and Buena Vista Avenue; a bike route or bike boulevard along Sherman Street and Pacific Avenue; or a Class I path along the shoreline.
5. Grand Street to Tilden Way: A commuter route that consists of bike lanes along Clement Avenue and recreational train alignments that could consist of a bike route along Buena Vista Avenue; a bike route or bike boulevard along Pacific Avenue, Walnut Street, and Buena Vista Avenue; or a Class I path along the shoreline.
The city won a legal battle to buy the Belt Line property with the aid of local parks champion Jean Sweeney, acquiring the rail line and yard in 2010 for under $1 million. In 2013, the city won a grant to construct the first section of the trail, the 0.8-mile path from Main Street to Webster Street. Planning efforts took place in 2014 and 2015, and the city hopes to initiate construction in late 2016 and complete it by the following summer.
The city won a $2.2 million grant to construct the second and third sections of the trail in 2014, but city officials backtracked on promises to close a dangerous gap in the trail, offering a plan that would have had bicycles sharing the road with cars along a busy, two-block stretch that leads into the future Jean Sweeney Open Space Park that had been developed without public input. Bike Walk Alameda successfully fought these efforts, forcing the city to allow more public input and convincing policymakers to reconsider this dangerous plan.
Bike Walk Alameda has been fighting for the Cross Alameda Trail for more than a decade. The leaders of our precursor organizations, Bike Alameda and Pedestrian Friendly Alameda, were part of the steering committee to plan and promote the trail, and we have been active participants in its planning and design and efforts to secure funding.
Most recently, Bike Walk Alameda successfully led the fight against a proposal to leave a dangerous, two-block gap in the trail that would have forced cyclists into a busy roadway, which was created with no public input and in contravention of the city’s promises to close the gap. Our advocacy led the city to propose a two-way cycletrack along these two blocks, which the Transportation Commission agreed to explore in January 2016. The city is also considering a mid-block crosswalk that would make it easier and safer for seniors who live in a nearby apartment complex to cross.
Bike Walk Alameda also advocated a complete street plan that would have provided a commute route along a one-mile stretch of Clement Avenue, which the feasibility study called out as a short-term alternative to a future shoreline path. Unfortunately, the City Council declined to move forward with the proposal.