Berkeley plans to increase city bike friendly initiatives

A bicycle boulevard on Milvia Street in Berkeley.
Sarah Brennan/File
A bicycle boulevard on Milvia Street in Berkeley.

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The city of Berkeley is implementing initiatives that would alter the city’s streets to make them safer for bicyclists.

According to the city’s bike plan, officials want the city to model a bike-friendly city where riding a bike is safe, a convenient form of transportation and a recreation for people of all ages.

Plans include modifications in bicycle boulevards and roadways. Hearst Avenue has one of the highest bike collision rates in the city, according to Dave Campbell, program director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

Campbell attended a meeting of the Berkeley Transportation Commission’s Bike Subcommittee on June 25 to help plan a redesign to make Hearst more bike friendly. Campbell said bike safety advocates discussed a “road-diet” for Hearst at the meeting, meaning it would go from being a four-lane avenue to a two-lane avenue to make room for bikes lanes on the sides.

“By far the most exciting (aspect of the meeting was) green paint on the bikeways to remind motorists to look for bikers on the roadway,” Campbell said.
According to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, the city has made a long-standing commitment to cyclists since the bicycle has become a more common mode of transportation.

UC Berkeley students who use their bikes to travel around campus and the city say they are glad Berkeley is implementing these projects.

“I feel like people don’t know about bike safety when riding,” said Clara Mathews, a member of BicyCAL, the UC Berkeley bike cooperative. “I think (the bike-friendly initiatives) will be helpful.”

BicyCAL is a student co-op that aims to empower UC Berkeley students to integrate the bicycle into their lives, according to its Facebook fan page.

Berkeley’s bike plan also includes modifications in bicycle pathways popularly used by bikers, roller skaters and pedestrians.

The transportation division of the city Public Works Department also initiated a plan last fall to complete the West Street Pathway in North Berkeley between Cedar-Rose and Strawberry Creek parks.

This pathway is also meant to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety, according to the city transportation division web page. The city plans for the pathway also show that yield and advanced crosswalk warning signs will be installed in order to make drivers aware of the pathway.

According to the city website, this action is being partially funded by Measure B, a half-cent transportation sales tax administered by the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

Although the city has not decided on a start date for this project, the construction of the West Street Pathway will take nine to 10 weeks of work, according to
Clunies-Ross.