[Photo: Google Streetview captured a common scene: kids on bikes trying to cross Dwight Way without lights or crosswalk along the California Street bicycle boulevard.]
Students should be able to bicycle safely from home to school, but long-standing gaps in Berkeley’s bicycle boulevard network are putting many at risk. In the past six months, two teenagers have been struck by vehicles while riding across the same intersection, where the California Street bicycle boulevard across busy Dwight Way in south Berkeley. The latest collision happened last Tuesday, when a thirteen-year old boy was struck by a bus on his way to school. While Berkeley has already painted new sharrows at this intersection, Bike East Bay is calling the city to immediately install a four-way stop sign and to fast-track adding a safe traffic light or beacon.
Send an email to Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Ben Bartlett supporting immediate safety improvements, and cc Bike East Bay Advocacy Director Dave Campbell at [email protected]. Harrison and Bartlett’s Districts border this intersection.
This is a known problem intersection. “There is no crosswalk on the southbound lane,” reports Jenn Guitart, a Bike East Bay member who lives in the neighborhood and regularly bikes with her two young children on California Street. “Cars routinely speed along Dwight, so it can be very difficult, particularly for children or seniors who take a bit longer to get going on their bikes, to find a safe moment to cross.”
Dwight Way and California Street is identified in the Berkeley bike plan as one of 50 intersections that need upgrades — ranging from crosswalks and stop signs to flashing beacons and traffic signals — to help bicyclists cross busy streets.
While the bike plan calls for a flashing beacon at Dwight Way and California Street, it can take years for cities to find funding for installing signal lights. Even then, drivers are not legally required to stop for bicyclists at flashing yellow lights. We are asking the city to fast-track the flashing beacon and to monitor if it is actually an effective upgrade for bikeways. If not, we will ask the city to find better permanent solutions for this and all 50 bikeway intersections.
Until then, the city needs to immediately install a four-way stop and improve safety for all the students and neighbors who use this popular biking corridor.