To increase opportunities for physical activity by supporting the development of a community-driven conceptual plan to guide the construction of a multi-use pathway within the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) corridor from East Oakland to Hayward in Alameda County.
Urban EcologyDon Neuwirth, Executive Director
The correlation between community socio-economic status and access to open space is starkly evident along the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) lines. In the East Bay, BART tracks are primarily above ground and on raised tracks, with a resulting right-of-way owned by BART underneath the tracks. In areas with a relatively high median income, such as Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito, the Ohlone Greenway was created along this right-of-way 25 years ago. The Ohlone Greenway is scenic with landscaping and signage that invites a variety of physical activities, including walking, jogging, and bicycling. It also serves to connect neighborhoods, schools, public transportation, and job centers. The same right-of-way exists along the southern tracks from Oakland to Hayward (11.8 miles with 5 BART stations), but this land does not offer usable open space nor connections to adjacent neighborhood facilities. On the contrary, much of this space is desolate and littered with trash, creating an eyesore. The BART tracks in this section cross through the cities of Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, and unincorporated Alameda County. These communities contain a combined population of roughly one million and, though the demographics vary from city to city, most of the residents who live along the BART tracks are low-income and non-white.
BART is preparing to begin a system wide seismic upgrade project to increase rider safety. This provides a window of opportunity for replicating the Ohlone Greenway along the southern section from Oakland to Hayward since the seismic retrofit will include significant ground disturbance and construction. Urban Ecology is a community design organization that has conducted many planning processes over its 30 year history and has a solid background in engaging low-income communities and communities of color in planning processes. Urban Ecology is proposing to take advantage of the BART retrofit project by “piggybacking” the construction of the Greenway onto the planned work that BART will be doing underneath the tracks. The concept of an East Bay Greenway has long been considered in the region (it is in both Oakland’s and San Leandro’s General Plans) and has generated broad support from a variety of stakeholders.