City of Berkeley holds open house to discuss city bicycle plan

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Alejandro Serrano/Staff

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The city of Berkeley held an open house Monday for the community to discuss improvements to be made to the Berkeley Bicycle Plan, which is due for an update for the first time in more than a decade.

About 130 people gathered at the Berkeley Public Library to provide input on the existing conditions of the plan and on how to improve Berkeley’s bicycle facilities in the update. Community members were able to see and interact with different display boards and information in an open house format.

“There were robust discussions on what improvements need to be seen,” said Dave Campbell, the advocacy director for Bike East Bay.

Since 2001, more than 2,000 collisions in Berkeley have involved a cyclist, according to data from the California Highway Patrol. This accounts for nearly 25 percent of all accidents in the city.

“That’s why we held the meeting on Monday, we wanted to take input and move forward to update the bike plan,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

The plan is still in the data collection stage of the process, but the current goal is to finish it by May 2016, according to Eric Anderson, a transportation planner for the city.

To support the high rate of bicycling within Berkeley, the original plan was adopted in 2000 to make bicycling safer and more convenient for bicyclists of all ages and skill levels. The plan worked to expand and improve bike facilities, some of which included an I-80 bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing, bike sensitive detector loops and locations for bike parking.

The city aims to update the plan every five years or so, Anderson said, but the last update to the plan was in 2005.

Bike East Bay — a bicycle advocacy group in Alameda and Contra Costa counties — is spearheading the advocacy portion of the plan’s update by spreading the word and listening to input, according to Campbell.

The highest priority of Bike East Bay is to improve intersections so that bicyclists can cross safely, according to Campbell. Other priorities included better bike access on busy streets and maintained roadways.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey, 8 percent of employed Berkeley adults bicycle to work. Of the cities with populations greater than 65,000, only Davis, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Eugene, Oregon have a higher percentage of bicycling commuters.

In contrast, about 2.6 percent of workers in neighboring Oakland and 3.5 percent of workers in San Francisco commute by bicycle, according to data from the California Highway Patrol. The number is close to 0.6 percent nationwide.

“We have a lot of catching up to do to build a safer bike network,” said Campbell. “Berkeley is our most popular city so it’s a top priority.”

The next event will be held May 14, which is the annual Bike to Work Day. A second open house is scheduled for this fall, according to Anderson.

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Contact Cassie Ippaso at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @cassippaso.

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  • Pil Orbison

    I’m partial to this project, because it will help minimize the traffic congestion. The safety of the bicyclists is crucial, especially because of lots of students commuting to school each day fighting against the rush hour. Adding more traffic signals and lights, slowing down the traffic speed, and widening the bicycle path to enhance the visibility would be alternative solutions to prevent accidents and injuries.