Some New Year's resolutions must have kicked in a week ago. On Wednesday, January 8, a large group of 30 walkers and two K-9 best friends turned out for the Recreation Department's walk. With the temperature was in the low 50s and some threat of rain, It was a surprisingly strong showing. The group was pleased to welcome first-time walkers Ana Maria and Margret.
Recently retired Piedmont Police officer Todd Mather was there. He provided some tips on personal and home security. Additionally, Stefanie Cruz of Cole Pro Media was there to film the outing, helping the City expand its presence on social media.
As is often the case, the group's inspiration for the day's walk came from the Piedmont Post. Walkers had read recently that the installation of new metal guardrails had been completed on the Oakland Avenue bridge, the historic entrance to Piedmont. Dick Carter motivated the walkers by telling them that after they crossed the bridge there would be a contest to see who could most closely guess the total cost to install the guardrails, and there would be a prize.
The walkers went down Magnolia Avenue past the high school's classroom building under construction, where a large crew was working on it. The group went on Bonita Avenue to Oakland Avenue, then down and across Grand Avenue to the foot of the bridge. The length of the bridge was more fully realized by walking it, rather than driving over it. The relatively new lampposts, lights, and now the guardrails make the Oakland Avenue Bridge a lovely entrance to the city. The guardrails make the bridge safer. The project was part of Piedmont's Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan adopted by the City Council in 2014.
The guardrail project was made possible by a matching grant secured by Vice Mayor Teddy King from the Alameda County Transportation Commission. After crossing the bridge, the group stopped at Linda Park, where they guessed the total construction cost of the guard- rails. The two finalists were Charlene Louie and Piedmont Post "Flip" ' cartoonist Phil Witte. With $414,000 as the answer, Phil was named the winner. The group decided how they wanted to return to the Exedra, using the baton method. The week before a "leader's baton" had been introduced to the group. It was used by a selected walker to lead the group down whatever street she or he wanted to go. Priscilla took the baton first and led the group through Linda Park. They emerged on Linda Avenue and crossed the street to Beach School and the Arthur Ward Corner, named for the faithful crossing guard who has protected students there.
The group walked down Linda, past the school, and took a shortcut through the walkway by the new townhomes next the bridge on the former PG&E substation property. Priscilla handed off the baton to Harriett L, who led the group up the initial steep portion of Oakland Avenue to Arbor Drive, and then to Jerome and Magnolia Avenues, and back to the Exedra. According to Mike H, it had been a 2.6 mile walk accomplished in one hour and three minutes and with 353-foot elevation gain. It also included some fun and good conversation with a large group of friends.