New protected bike lane on Bancroft Way set to finish construction

Ketki Samel /Staff

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A new two-way protected cycling lane on Bancroft Way — running two blocks from Dana Street to Fulton Street — is expected to be completed by the end of the week.

The new cycle track and accompanying bus lane will occupy one traffic lane and a row of car parking on Bancroft Way. According to city transportation manager Farid Javandel, the third lane of traffic that currently exists west of Dana Street is unnecessary, so the city can use the extra road width to create new bike lanes without significantly impacting traffic flow.

“Project completion is estimated to require approximately four working days to lay out, review, and install the required roadway markings,” Javandel said in an email.

Javandel added that an exact date for full lane operation is still pending, as the city still needs to acquire alternate materials for the red bus lane on the north side of Bancroft Way because of their vendor’s unexpectedly high quote for materials.

Bike East Bay, a nonprofit organization focusing on making cities safer for biking, lobbied for the bike and bus lanes throughout 2016. This was in response to a near-fatal incident in February of last year in which campus environmental health lecturer Megan Schwarzman was struck from behind while biking home from campus by a driver under the influence of marijuana.

“I’m really thrilled for Berkeley’s move towards creating more protected bike lanes, particularly around campus,” Schwarzman said. “I hope that people can see that this benefits everybody, bikers and pedestrians and drivers alike and that it can become a model for more bike infrastructure in the whole East Bay. Having (the lane) separated from traffic is really what makes it so much safer and easier for everybody to ride, families included.”

In a press release, Bike East Bay stated that the project will lead to the first red bus lane and the first connected, protected bike lanes, which, according to the press release, should improve walking, biking and city transit “in a single project.”

“The Bancroft Way protected bike lane is the beginning of a protected bike lane network in Berkeley,” said Ginger Jui, a spokesperson for Bike East Bay. “In 2018, we expect to have new bus and bike lanes on Dana and also extending east on Bancroft all the way to Piedmont Avenue.”

Representatives of local bike shops also expressed their approval of the new bike lane, including Mike’s Bikes of Berkeley employee Chris Hoeper-Tomich.

“I think it’s great they’re putting in more protected lanes for commuters,” Hoeper-Tomich said. “It’d be great if they can continue to bring in an opening of access with protected bike lanes … to make it safer and easier for people on bikes to get around and exercise and get to work quickly and efficiently.”

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a row of parking would be removed from Durant Avenue for a bike lane. In fact, it will be removed from Bancroft Way.