Saturday, February 28, 2009

Want To Ride Your Bike In Oakland? Try Piedmont Instead

Today I decided to go for a nice 15-mile ride on my road bike.

As I usually do on such occasions, I took a direct route to Piedmont and cycled around the lovely homes, parks and schools of that well-maintained community.

I'd like to bike near my house, since I live in a location where there are plenty of challenging hills. But in most cases I cannot, because the roads are so poorly maintained here that I would quickly pop a tire or hit a pothole and fall down.

In fact, one of my favorite spots in Oakland is a location along Skyline where someone has actually drawn a circle in fluorescent spray paint around a crack that runs along the road. If you're riding along Skyline and put a tire in that crack, your tire isn't coming out, and you're going to fall down and potentially bend your wheel.

Another spot I love is the place along upper Broadway Terrace where, either due to an underground spring, a break in the water main or a break in the storm drain, there is a constant trickle of water coming out of the asphalt. It appears that the city occasionally slaps some new pavement on the location, but for some reason they'd rather not actually fix the underlying problem.

Contrast this with Piedmont. There, most streets have been resurfaced within the last few years. And many of the streets are wider than their Oakland counterparts.

One can easily tell when crossing the Piedmont-Oakland border, even though it is not well marked. No markings are needed. All you need to do is look down and notice when the road turns from smooth asphalt to warmed-over rubble.

I'm sure the folks at city hall can spin a good explanation for this. Undoubtedly it involves a dearth of funding for basic services.

The real problem is that Oakland's leaders don't put a priority on basics like roads and schools. Rather than putting the first dollar they receive into items like this, they spend their first dollars on pet projects and, apparently, nepotism.

And it's a good thing, too. Who needs roads when we have to keep Deborah Edgerly's entire family employed shuffling paper?


  1. I've been riding around Oakland and environs for almost 30 years. Went out yesterday and noticed that the recent rains have taken their toll. You can also tell when you enter Berkeley... much more active road maintenance. The Oakland deterioration has been noticeable for about 10-12 years. It's obvious that the money normally allocated for street maintenance has been embezzeled by empire builders at City Hall. Right on about Dizzy Debbie!

  2. "I’m sure the folks at city hall can spin a good explanation for this. Undoubtedly it involves a dearth of funding for basic services."

    median household income:
    Piedmont $170,463
    Oakland $48,260

    average household income:
    Piedmont $227,887
    Oakland $64,767

    Residents with income below the poverty level in 2007:
    Piedmont: 2.1%
    Oakland: 17.6%

    Residents with income below 50% of the poverty level in 2007:
    Piedmont: 0.9%
    Oakland: 7.1%

    Comparing Piedmont and Oakland isn't like comparing apples with oranges, it's like comparing open-pollinated organic heirloom apples from the farmers' market with store-brand orange-flavored soda.