Sidewalks and Bike Lanes on Somerset, At Last!

After years of public advocacy and grantwriting, sidewalks are finally coming to Somerset Avenue. As part of the design process, Public Works is presenting multiple options for bike lanes on Somerset at a virtual public meeting on April 26, 6:00pm as part of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. There are several options, each with tradeoffs for bike lanes and parking.

Why Bike Lanes?

California vehicle code allows bikes to use the full lane in the absence of a bicycle lane. So why bother building bike lanes at all, if bikes can already use any road that’s not a highway?

  • Bike lanes increase cycling. Many people want to cycle in Castro Valley, to get to school or work or BART or the Village or a friend’s house. But many people are (rightfully!) nervous to cycle on a main road that doesn’t have a dedicated bike lane. Creating a network of dedicated bike lanes will increase cycling in Castro Valley.
  • Bike lanes increase the safety of cyclists. Bike lanes reduce the conflict between cyclists and cars. Many Castro Valley residents have tales of collisions or close calls that they’ve been involved in while riding their bike on a road without a bike lane.
  • Bike lanes reduce congestion.  Alameda County’s Complete Street policy creates equity amongst all road users, including the old and young who choose to cycle or scoot. Without separate space, cyclists are forced to ride in front of drivers, blocking and congesting cars, especially as the new sidewalks will push cars further into the street on Somerset. Not only is “taking the lane” legal, but it is recommended by bike safety organizations as a way to reduce dangerous passes, where drivers try to share a lane that is too narrow. So people who never plan to use the bike lanes, benefit from them in the form of reduced congestion.
  • Bike lanes connect our community. The downtown flat core of Castro Valley is the perfect size for cycling for errands or to grab dinner. Somerset Avenue is a key east-west corridor in Castro Valley, connecting schools, markets, churches, and key north-south corridors. Somerset bike lanes will improve safety for students crossing town to our middle and high schools. This constituency is important since many students live within ridable distances and most of the traffic along Somerset comes from school drop off and pick up. Congestion along Somerset can dramatically be reduced if parents and students feel comfortable to cycle. This would free up parent schedules while improving student’s confidence and life skills.
  • Bike lanes make projects more competitive for funding. Much of the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Castro Valley has come through grants from the state Active Transportation Program (ATP). To score highly, a project must demonstrate that it is aligned with local planning documents, such as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and the Climate Action Plan. A project that does not include bike lanes will not get funded.

Bike Lane Options

There are several options for bike lanes on Somerset, each with its own pros and cons

  • Protected Bike Lanes: The safest option for cyclists on busy roads – especially for a road that connects schools — is for bike lanes that are protected by a curb or other barrier. East 14th St. has installed protected bike lanes with a curb barrier. This would require removing parking on both sides of Somerset.
  • Dedicated (Class II) Bike Lanes: The second best option for cyclists is dedicated bike lanes in both directions. This would require removing parking on one side of Somerset.
  • Commute Hour Bike Lanes: Pleasant Hill, Santa Cruz, and other communities have tried commute hour bike lanes, which still allows for overnight parking on both sides of the street.

Bike Lanes and Climate Change

The Climate Crisis is the most existential threat to modern humanity and a safe and comfortable bike/pedestrian network is critical to the Alameda County Climate Action Plan, with a 2020 mode share target of 2.5% for walking and 1.5% for biking. Sixty percent of unincorporated Alameda County greenhouse gases come from cars so we need to reduce driving. E-cars are not a complete solution as their adoption will take decades as will a clean electrical grid, not to mention emissions from manufacturing. Bicycles, including e-bikes, reduce manufacturing emissions and congestion while improve health thru exercise.

Since Somerset is a public right of way, a key consideration is to maximize the public good rather than private good. Roads were invented to transport people and things. Movement should always be the priority. Notice that Public Works is not exploring the removal of travel lanes for bike lanes. Bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters are part of that movement along with cars.

Please keep in mind that Public Works routinely removes parking for the safety and convenience of drivers without any public process. For example, loads of parking was removed along Redwood to create left turn lanes to avoid rear end collisions. Same for the right turn lane at Al’s Market. Street parking was removed near the Post Office to reduce congestion. All removal serves the greater public good over the private. Cyclists deserve similar safety considerations.

Finally, a safe and comfortable bicycle and pedestrian network creates community and livability. Cyclists and pedestrians are less anonymous and more likely to interact with others on the street. They are visible and recognizable ears and eyes of the community, improving overall personal safety. Please join the public meeting to voice your support for bike lanes along Somerset.

Sidewalk Construction on Stanton

At last, sidewalk construction on Stanton Avenue is making progress!


None of us know when in-person school will resume, but these sidewalks are sure to be complete the next time Stanton Elementary students walk to school!

How did this happen?

  1. The Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) worked on the narrative of ATP grant applications, and in 2015 the application for design funding for Stanton Avenue sidewalks was successful.
  2. In 2016, and then in 2017, a group of Stanton parents pressured the MAC about safety near Stanton Elementary. This advocacy succeeded in moving up the construction timeline to 2019, as well as identifying SB 1 funds for construction.
  3. Obviously the construction did not start in 2019, but here we are in 2020, very close to having sidewalks on both sides of Stanton Avenue, from Castro Valley Blvd to Miramar Ave!

Hopefully next up is design work on Somerset Avenue! We will keep pushing for progress and funding for pedestrian infrastructure in Castro Valley.

Advocate for Pedestrian Safety at the March 16 MAC Meeting

Pedestrian safety is (once again) on the agenda of the Castro Valley MAC meeting on Monday, March 16, at 6 p.m. at the Castro Valley Library.  BikeWalkCV has been working with the school district to identify both short- and long-term solutions to many of the dangerous areas for pedestrians in our community. Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi will be presenting some of these at the MAC meeting, and it’s a chance for all of us to tell Alameda County Public Works what our community needs.


Some of the improvements that CVUSD will be asking to implement immediately include:

  • High-visibility crosswalks (with flashing lights) near schools
  • A scramble crossing (all-way walk) in front of the high school and other locations
  • Protected crossings for pedestrians and signal delays (when pedestrians get the walk signal several seconds before cars get a green light to turn)
  • Additional crossing guards across the district
  • Improved crossing guard communications and recruiting

Oversight of Public Works

Asking for specific improvements at MAC meetings has, on occasion, accelerated the pace of improvements in Castro Valley. However, this scattershot and arbitrary approach is not enough. We need consistent, transparent oversight of Public Works. While the planned Eden Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is a good start, it is slated to be run by Public Works, and thus not a good venue for oversight. We will be asking for a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, which will instead report to the Board of Supervisors. This structure can result in holding Public Works accountable to our community.

Join Us and Speak Up!

We encourage and invite the community to attend this MAC meeting, share your experiences, and push for change. Far too many of us have stories of accidents or close calls — the MAC meeting is a chance to share those with the community.

I know this is not the first time we’ve had a call for action to speak at a MAC meeting about pedestrian safety — and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last. But with every meeting we have brought more voices, we have been louder, and we have put more pressure on Alameda County. Working together, we will make this a safer community for us all.

No County Money for Sidewalks in Castro Valley

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, there is no funding for sidewalks in Castro Valley in the Alameda County Public Works Agency (PWA) budget. While we continue to pay SB 1 taxes at the gas pump, and Measure BB taxes on our property taxes, those funds are going to projects elsewhere in the county and in the state. Despite our advocacy, Alameda County has chosen to not tap into these funds for sidewalk projects in any part of unincorporated Alameda County.

Previous Funding from the Active Transportation Program

For the past several years, the vast majority of sidewalk funding in Castro Valley has come via the state Active Transportation Program (ATP). In the years that the Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) worked on the grant proposals, this has been a successful approach. In the other years (2014 and 2018), the Alameda County Public Works Agency (PWA)’s grant proposals did not yield sidewalk funding.

ATP funds are not a reliable or sustainable source of funding for sidewalks in Castro Valley. PWA has not convened the Castro Valley BPAC since Paul Keener passed away in July 2018. And the PWA has never had a successful grant ATP grant proposal for infrastructure without BPAC input. However, PWA has chosen to rely only on ATP grants for future sidewalk funding . . . with no BPAC to provide critical support on the proposal-writing.

Local and State Funding Sources

After ATP money was used for design work for sidewalks on Stanton Avenue, PWA allocated state transportation funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) for construction work on those sidewalks, and PWA expects to have bids for this work in Summer 2019.

We have been cautiously optimistic about this success, and had hoped that PWA would again tap into Measure BB or SB 1 funds for the construction work on projects that have design funding (Anita Avenue, Somerset Avenue). Nope. PWA will not use these funds for Castro Valley, or any part of unincorporated Alameda County. While other communities use our taxpayer money to invest in infrastructure, Castro Valley’s built environment will continue to lag behind its neighbors.

What’s Next?

In the long term, only local self-governance for Castro Valley will allow us to invest in our community’s priorities for safety and walkability. In the short term, we are actively brainstorming a new advocacy approach. Please share your comments and ideas with us! (Leave a comment on the blog, or email us at

And by the way . . . we’ve only gotten what we have so far because of the sheer number of people who’ve emailed Supervisor Miley or Castro Valley MAC members, shown up at MAC meetings and town halls, and provided letters of support to grant applications. Thank you, all of you, so much for your time and energy. We hope that you continue to speak up for sidewalks whenever we have an opportunity to do so!

Pedestrian Safety Along Stanton Avenue

We have several updates regarding pedestrian safety along Stanton Avenue and other key corridors in Castro Valley — both short-term solutions and long-term plans for pedestrians.

At the December 18, 2017 MAC meeting, the Alameda County Public Works Agency (PWA) gave a presentation on upcoming work on Stanton Avenue. The good news:

  • In early Winter 2018, PWA will paint white lines on Stanton Avenue in places where there is no proper curb delineating the road from the pedestrian right-of-way.
  • The pilot program was announced on the front page of the Castro Valley Forum on January 31, 2018. PWA also intends to provide information to households on or near Stanton Avenue.
  • Alameda County Code Enforcement is currently addressing encroachments (overgrowth removal, pole and sign repositioning, etc.)
  • Design work for sidewalks along Stanton Avenue has already begun (using money from the successful ATP grant), and construction work is slated to begin in Summer 2019. This is an accelerated schedule; Alameda County has received an influx of money due to SB 1.


Diagram of parking/walking delineation lines from PWA presentation at 12/11/2017 Castro Valley MAC Meeting

The bad news:

  • The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department has been consulted on this by PWA, but has not unambiguously committed to enforcing parking violations along these areas. These incidents are left up to the officer’s discretion; however, the white lines will decrease the ambiguity about where the road ends and where the pedestrian right-of-way begins.
  • As of December 2017, there was no timeline for when this pilot will be evaluated for success before rolling out onto other critical streets.
  • As of December 2017, there was no timeline presented for sidewalk construction on other roads in Castro Valley which have received ATP funding for design (such as Anita Avenue and Somerset Avenue).

A final takeaway: I am cautiously optimistic that the Safe Routes to School program and the Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan Update are working in concert with each other. The Safe Routes to School program has identified safety concerns near the schools that can be quickly fixed (e.g. crosswalks), while the Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan Update is focusing on larger scale infrastructure and network issues. We will keep you posted as any Safe Routes to Schools updates come to fruition.

What’s next? The Alameda County Public Works Agency Annual report was slated for the January 2018 MAC meeting, but was pushed back to March 2018 due to the full agenda. Stay tuned to our BikeWalkCV Facebook page for updates!

Want to Walk on Stanton Avenue?

Stanton Avenue is one of the many streets in Castro Valley plagued by lack of sidewalks. In spots lacking true sidewalks, parked cars and overgrown landscaping often block the pedestrian right-of-way. On Monday, December 18th, at 6pm at the MAC meeting at the CV Library, the public will have a rare opportunity to share concerns and hold public agencies accountable.

Stanton 2

Community Complaints

In Fall 2016, parents from Stanton Elementary (myself included) approached the Castro Valley MAC about the safety concern that this presented near the school. The MAC formed a subcommittee to collaborate with the multiple Alameda County agencies responsible for maintaining the pedestrian right of way — Code Enforcement (in the Community Development Agency) handles encroachment from overgrowth, the Sheriff’s Department handles parking enforcement, and Public Works is responsible for the engineering of roads and sidewalks.

MAC and Public Agencies

The MAC launched a pilot project in August 2017 to tackle the walkability of Stanton Avenue, and Code Enforcement’s report back to the MAC at the 11/20/2017 meeting was underwhelming.

  1. At the start of the pilot, the MAC crafted a letter to homeowners in the Stanton School area notifying them that they needed to keep the walkway clear.
  2. Several MAC members and Code Enforcement did a “field trip” to Stanton and carefully reviewed about 15 properties along a block of Stanton Avenue.
  3. Code Enforcement made a determination on the various issues, from overgrown vegetation to sign posts to parked cars.
    1. For vegetation issues, Code Enforcement notified property owners giving them a deadline to correct the issues.
    2. For sign posts, Code Enforcement asked Public Works to move the signs.
    3. For parked cars, Code Enforcement notified the Sheriff, who responded with the typical reply that they would not ticket unless they could be provided with a clear property line
  4. Code Enforcement stressed several times that they wanted to partner with other agencies (Public Works, Sheriff, MAC, etc.) to rectify this long-standing problem.
  5. The MAC announced that Public Works would be attending the next MAC General Purpose meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017 and that one of the short-term solutions the MAC is pushing for is white lines to separate the walkway from parking. White lines give the Sheriff a means to enforce parking rules.

What Can We Do?

The MAC meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017 (6 p.m. at the Castro Valley Library) is an all-too-rare opportunity for Public Works to answer to us. Where is the pedestrian infrastructure? Why should kids have to walk in the street to get to school? How can those with wheelchairs or strollers get anywhere?

Pedestrians, parents, and other advocates have complained to the MAC (and to Supervisor Miley) for years about the lack of sidewalks in Castro Valley. (Parents from Proctor Elementary complained to the MAC about similar issues in 2015.) This is the biggest push we’ve seen from the MAC to address these issues — and showing up to the 12/18/2017 MAC meeting to make sure Public Works hears us is the next step. On Stanton and a few other streets in CV, we may see sidewalks by 2023 (decades more before we see them on so many other streets) – but we can’t keep waiting! Short term solutions like white lines to protect our walking space can take weeks, not decades. We need your faces and your voices to tell Public Works that we need real solutions to preserving a safe pedestrian right-of-way today!

New Bike/Pedestrian Plans Need New Input

Advocating for more sidewalks and bike lanes in Castro Valley has often felt like a long slog. One of the walls we keep hitting is the current Alameda County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for Unincorporated Areas, which was last updated in 2012. However, next week, you have the opportunity to help us all see another spot of light at the end of the tunnel!

The current bike plan for Castro Valley mostly calls for sharrows, even on busy roads and major corridors.


Map of Castro Valley from the 2012 bike/pedestrian master plan; note that the red dotted lines merely indicate sharrows.

Since 2012 there’s been an explosion in creative designs around the country for bike lanes and pedestrian pathways, as well as a steady increase in demand in Castro Valley for safer infrastructure for walking and biking. And now we have a chance to set a vision for the future of our community. Alameda County Public Works is updating the bike/pedestrian master plan, and we need input from the community to create a vision for a safer, walkable, bikeable Castro Valley.

There will be several community open houses in the next few months; the first two are in Dublin on Wednesday, August 23, and at the Castro Valley Library in Castro Valley on Thursday, August 24, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Bring yourself! Bring your kids! Bring your neighbors! And most importantly, bring your opinions. Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

8_14_2017_Community Meeting Flyer_4-1

Safe Routes to School Wants Your Input!

As part of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programming in unincorporated Alameda County, the County has contracted a consultant to do an audit of the current bicycle and pedestrian issues around each school. There is an interactive map of Alameda County on which you can register your feedback about safety needs of each school — ranging from sidewalks and crossing guards to bicycle corridors to general safety concerns. The consultant needs this feedback by July 15, 2017, in order to begin analysis and planning for the upcoming school year.

If you’ve never used a GIS interactive map before, we can walk you through it.

First, go to the interactive map.

Second, after closing the welcome message, select the school you want to center on the map. Once you start typing in the box in the lower left-hand corner it will start suggesting schools:


Once you select a school it will zoom into that part of the map. Now it’s time to start leaving feedback! There are two ways to leave feedback:

  1. At a point, which is a good way to identify a dangerous intersection, a spot needing a crossing guard or crosswalk, or some other general concern.
  2. Along a line, which is the best way to identify a length of road that needs a sidewalk or bike lane.

We’ll start with dropping a pin. Click once on the type of pin you want to use to indicate a problem:
Then, click on the point on the map where you want to drop the pin and make a comment. Once you click on the point, a box will pop up with the option for you to leave a comment. Leave a comment in the box, select the relevant school, and click “close” to submit the comment.

Next, let’s mark a road where we might need some sidewalks. Click once on the type of line you want to draw:
Then click once at your starting point along the map. If the route has a bend or a turn in it, click once at each corner or turn, double-clicking only at the end of the route.

And that’s it! Please mark every safety concern that you encounter near a Castro Valley school (and, in fact near any other school in unincorporated Alameda County) — the more feedback, the better. Let us know in the comments if you have any trouble with the site!

Crosswalk Improvements Coming to Castro Valley

At the September 2016 Castro Valley Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, in addition to learning about specific process improvements coming to the Castro Valley BPAC, we got a list of upcoming crosswalk improvements.

There are two different types of improvements coming. Some streets will get a bulb-out and a high visibility crosswalk: bulbouts shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians, while also providing them with a better and safer vantage point from which to see the oncoming traffic.


The list of intersections getting bulb-outs and a high-visibility crosswalk are:

  • Redwood Road and Alma Avenue
  • Redwood Road and Buti Park Drive (also with flashing beacons)
  • Kent Street and Santa Ana Road (bulb-out only)
  • Lake Chabot Road and Carlton and Arcadian (also with flashing beacons)
  • Miramar and Crest Avenue

Several other intersections are getting flashing beacons and a high visibility crosswalk:

  • A Street and Ruby Street
  • Center Street (mid-block)
  • Center Street and Gem Avenue
  • Grove Way and Queen Street
  • Heyer Avenue and Alana Road
  • Lake Chabot Road and Lake Chabot Marina Entrance
  • Miramar Avenue and Saratoga Street

There are still more intersections in sore need of a better crosswalk — which ones would you like to see upgraded? Let us ( and Alameda County Public Works ( know what you need!

New Steps for Sidewalk Advocacy

We have spent the last two years advocating for sidewalks in Castro Valley, and while we’ve made some progress — most notably in the form of successful ATP grants — we haven’t seen any substantial new construction yet. Nor have we identified any sources of funding for sidewalks other than the Active Transportation Program.

Public Works received funding for design work on Stanton Avenue through the ATP process in 2015. However, at this point there has been no progress reported on the design, and no source of funding for the construction has been identified (other than another future round of ATP applications). Stanton Avenue is a key north-south corridor on the western edge of Castro Valley, and is also the backbone of Stanton Elementary’s catchment area.

Parents at Stanton Elementary are tired of walking through the mud and in the streets just to get to and from school every day. Paying for the second, much-needed crossing guard is also a strain on the budget of the Title I school’s parent association. (Alameda County pays for only one crossing guard.) At the Castro Valley MAC meeting on Monday, November 21, 2016, these parents — and the students, teachers, staff, and neighbors of Stanton Elementary — will be asking the MAC for help prioritizing these sidewalk projects. They will be asking for Public Works to pursue Measure BB funding, and to look for discretionary funds that could be spent on sidewalks.

While this agenda item is specifically about Stanton Avenue, it is also a chance for the community to show up and ask for more investment into sidewalks in Castro Valley. The Measure BB money is out there, and is being spent elsewhere in Alameda County. Public Works has discretionary funds, and there is no reason that they cannot be spent on sidewalks in Castro Valley. But we will only make progress if we show up in person at the MAC meeting and demand this investment.

Please join us at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 21, at the Castro Valley Library!