City of Berkeley seeks to build fossil fuel-free transportation system

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The recently passed Electric Mobility Roadmap seeks to move Berkeley toward a zero-emissions transportation system through various strategies, such as promoting walking, biking and using public transit.

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The city of Berkeley is aiming to move toward zero emissions from transportation with a new set of strategies for equitable and sustainable transportation infrastructure.

The Electric Mobility Roadmap, which was passed unanimously at a City Council meeting Tuesday, will build a fossil fuel-free transportation system by increasing how often people walk, bike or use public transit, while replacing fossil fuel-powered vehicles with electric transportation options. The road map outlines 58 actions to work toward that system, which will take effect over the next five to 10 years.

“This is really critical to not just our climate action plan, but also to make sure that all segments of our community can bike and walk and commute throughout our city safely,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín at the meeting.

According to Arreguín, the city of Berkeley has reduced carbon emissions by 26% since 2000, despite an 18% increase in the city’s population. Transportation is the only sector in which Berkeley’s emissions have increased between 2000 and 2016, according to the Electric Mobility Roadmap report.

Transportation accounts for 59% of Berkeley’s greenhouse gas emissions, said Katie Van Dyke, city climate action program manager, at the City Council meeting. She added that reducing those emissions has been particularly difficult.

The road map contains goals for Berkeley’s transportation infrastructure, which focus on ensuring equitable access to clean transportation, improving alternatives to driving and working toward zero net emissions from private vehicles.

In order to address structural inequities in access to transportation, the road map focuses on advancing equitable transportation solutions. Specifically, it outlines strategies for the city to partner with community organizations to connect underserved communities with electric mobility programs, in addition to expanding access to discounted public transportation.

“Simply changing technologies would ignore the inequalities present in our current transportation system,” the road map report states. “Historically, transportation investments and decisions have unjustly burdened low-income communities and communities of color with air pollution and other negative impacts, while simultaneously failing to meet their transportation needs.”

In addition, the road map describes strategies to expand access to shared transportation, such as car-sharing and bike-sharing, while also ensuring those forms of transportation use clean electricity.

In order to work toward zero emissions, the road map aims to expand charging for electric vehicles throughout the city, among other strategies.

For each strategy, the Electric Mobility Roadmap outlines next steps, partners for the projects, timelines and costs. The city will collaborate with other stakeholders to implement these strategies over the next five to 10 years.

Contact Alexandra Feldman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @a_p_feldman.