Walnut Creek mobility gripe no. 4: Where the bike lane ends on California Boulevard

A reader alerted me to both this possible “gap” in thinking on Walnut Creek’s proposed Bicycle Plan, as well as a challenging gap for bicyclists trying to travel up and down California Boulevard between the BART station and Newell Avenue.

The bike lane along California Boulevard ends at Mt. Diablo Boulevard. If the bicyclist is determined to push to Newell Avenue on south to the end of California Boulevard, well good luck to the bicyclist. He or she has to compete with motorists for space, especially in those two blocks between Olympic Boulevard and Newell Avenue.

As I’ve said before, I don’t ride a bike, but I’ve been a motorist coming upon someone on a bike trying to squeeze into the right-hand lanes of traffic going in both directions on California Boulevard between Olympic and Newell.
Basically, there is no room for both a car and a bike in those right-hand lanes. Of course, I’ve been the motorist, annoyed that I have to slow way down and essentially follow behind the bicyclist. And I’ve been stuck in a slow-moving column of cars, stuck behind a much slower moving bicyclist.

It happens fairly frequently. It makes sense that, if you’re a bicyclist trying to get from one end of town to another, that you’d use the full length of California Boulevard. I’ve seen kids on bikes trying to get to and from school on California Boulevard, and what looks like adults on bikes trying to get to and from work.

According to the draft Bicycle Plan, which the city council has begun discussing, creating a “Class III” bike route in both directions from Olympic Boulevard to Newell Avenue is a high priority. A Class III bike route can basically be any city street, and doesn’t require a special bike lane. It is “usually established on low-volume local neighborhood streets,” which we know California Boulevard, leading to Plaza Escuela, Trader Joe’s, and Kaiser medical center, is not. It is recommended that Class III bike routes that serve as routes to school, for younger bicyclists, have “wider outside lane widths (fourteen to sixteen feet).”

With the current state of sidewalks and retail space on California Boulevard, between Oympic and Newell, I’m not sure how they would squeeze in any extra space in the right lanes for bicyclists.

As I wrote earlier, the city has begun discussing ways to make Walnut Creek more bike-friendly. The city has to work on this effort. It is mandated to do so by the General Plan 2025 and if it wants to become eligible to receive special state funds. Unfortunately, the draft Bicycle Plan says that many roads are not currently bicycle friendly (could we be talking this stretch of California Boulevard?), and connections to downtown, transit, and work centers are not clearly established.

One thought on “Walnut Creek mobility gripe no. 4: Where the bike lane ends on California Boulevard

  1. Add bike lanes on all the major streets. Mt. Diablo needs one. Encouraging bicycle use enhances the quality of life! I need to read the report.


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