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Protected Bike Lanes On Telegraph Avenue Open In Oakland

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Oakland cut the ribbon Tuesday morning on innovative new bike lanes along a bustling stretch of Telegraph Avenue.

The "parking protected bicycle lanes" have appeared over the last few weeks on Telegraph between 20th and 29th streets. The city removed a traffic lane along that stretch and is now asking motorists to park to the left of a green-striped bicycle lane.

The project is meant to improve safety for the 1,200 bicyclists a day who ride on the busy thoroughfare. In the last four years, there have been 66 bike-car collisions in that stretch, many involving bicyclists crashing into open doors of parked cars, Mayor Libby Schaaf said Tuesday.

Some motorists have had trouble adjusting to the change. As the lanes appeared in recent weeks, bicyclists have found themselves facing two rows of parked cars instead of one as some drivers continued to park near the curb in the bicycle lane.

"It's going to take a minute to relearn how we park but it is so worth it," Schaaf said.

She said she hopes bicycle use along the corridor will "explode" in the coming months and years.

Transit advocates hope the protected bike lanes on Telegraph -- the first of their kind in the city -- will become a model for the wider Bay Area. There are some in place in San Francisco already, but the design has widespread use in Europe and other major U.S. cities like New York and Chicago.

"It's so great to see Oakland and Telegraph lead the way," Bike East Bay executive director Renee Rivera said. "If we can do this on Telegraph, we can do this all over the East Bay."

Rivera said she was thrilled to have the lanes in place in time for Bike to Work Day this Thursday.

City transportation services manager Wladimir Wlassowsky said the painted lanes are just an interim design and eventually the city will add raised concrete to make the lanes a permanent feature of Telegraph. Meanwhile, the city is adding more bicycle tracks further up Telegraph, on upper Broadway and on Grand Avenue.

"Our main goal in Oakland is to make our streets safer" for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and everyone else, Wlassowsky said.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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