Almost ten years in the making, new protected bike lanes on Hearst Avenue in Berkeley are now open and being enjoyed by many Berkeley residents and Cal students every day. When Berkeley heard two years ago from many people wanting better bike facilities away from high-speed traffic, they switched from a conventional road diet design with painted bike lanes out in the street to curbside, comfortable bike lanes, separated and protected from traffic along many busy stretches. These changes were supported by the community and advocated for by Bike East Bay. Protected bike lanes are better because they appeal to a broad range of people, many of who are new to bicycling, such as students, young kids, and senior residents. Mayor Jesse Arreguin and other Berkeley City Councilmembers cut the ribbon January 26 (Read about it below).
The project includes green bike lanes and turn boxes, two bus boarding islands along the Cal campus section, a new sidewalk above Le Conte, and bike signals at Cal’s Northgate entrance at the intersection of Euclid and Hearst Avenue. We are working to connect this project to the recently opened Bancroft Way two-way cycle track with new protected bike lanes on Milvia Street. Planning for Milvia’s final bikeway design begins this year.
The bus boarding islands avoid conflicts at transit stops between buses and people bicycling. They also speed up buses somewhat. The road diet from 4 travel lanes to 2 travel lanes helps ensure cars travel at the speed limit of 25mph, which should improve pedestrian safety when crossing the street. Crossing 2 fewer travel lanes is also a big safety improvement, as it eliminates the “double threat” of one car yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk while a second car fails to yield. The new sidewalk also greatly improves walking connectivity between Northgate and the Le Conte/Arch intersection. Finally, the newly reconfigured intersetion at Le Conte/Arch/Hearst is much smaller with short crosswalks and fewer car movements conflicting with pedestrian rights of way.
There were a couple compromises agreed to with the Hearst Avenue bikeway design, such as curbside bus layover and loading zones on the block between Walnut Avenue and Oxford Street. The bike lanes go around these spots. Once UC Berkeley and AC Transit are comfortable with the project, we hope to upgrade these spot issues.
Read All About It
- UC Berkeley: Getting to campus just got quicker, safer and more sustainable
- Daily Californian: Berkeley celebrates opening of redesigned Hearst Avenue, Bancroft Way
- Berkeleyside: Berkeley Unveils a ‘Street for Everybody’
- StreetsblogSF: Berkeley Celebrates Hearst Avenue and Bancroft Way Protected Bike Lanes
- East Bay Times: Berkeley dedicates bicycle, pedestrian improvements alongside UC campus
June 10, 2016 update
Staff have agreed to extend the protected bike lanes planned for Hearst Avenue to more blocks of the project, thanks to Bike East Bay’s successful one-day demo of protected bike lanes on Hearst Avenue at Sunday Streets Berkeley in 2015. The project went out to bid for construction in June 2016 and should be complete by December, 2016. Hearst Avenue will be Berkeley’s 2nd protected bike lane project, after Fulton Street protected bike lanes.
We are close to getting Berkeley to commit to protected bike lanes on Hearst Ave, but need your help to get this worthy project across the finish line. Some key staff feel that a few additional parking spots are more important than a safe and atractive bikeway.
What you can do
Please send an email today to Councilmember Jesse Arreguin District 4 and Councilmember Kriss Worthington District 7 and let them know they have your support for building protected, curbside bike lanes on Hearst Ave.
The project will curbside protected bike lanes eastbound of Arch, and staff are considering protected bike lanes eastbound of Oxford. We want protected bike lanes on the busy two block stretch of Hearst Ave between Shattuck Ave and Oxford, where thousands of people bicycle to and from Cal every day.
While the race is on for the most innovative new bikeway in the East Bay, between Hearst Ave in Berkeley, Shoreline Drive in Alameda and Telegraph Ave in Oakland, two doable improvements to the bikeway design of Hearst could end the competition–more protected bike lanes and bus boarding islands. Both are still being considered and Berkeley staff need to hear that you want these too.
First though, thank you everyone who came to the March 11 open house and showed strong support for the project, and for extending the protected bike lanes west to Shattuck Ave. Bike East Bay is preparing a full comment letter, which we will share here, with a strong emphasis on two points.
More protected bike lanes
Bus boarding islands with bike lanes to the right
You can help by contacting Project Manager Aaron Sage, [email protected] and letting him know that you agree with our goal of protected bike lanes and bus boarding islands, which allow the design to keep the bike lane along the curb, and move cars-buses-trucks-motorcycles-parked cars out to the left.
Protected bike lanes are eminently feasible on Hearst Ave between Shattuck and Oxford and possibly east of Oxford in the uphill direction. In addition to protecting you from moving cars, protected bike lanes on Hearst will also make your bike commute toward campus a much more consistent experience, by keeping the bike lane along the curb, where it belongs.
The addition of bus boarding islands at LeConte and at Euclid. AC Transit supports bus boarding islands because they eliminate bus-bike conflicts and you’ll like them too for the same reason. Oakland is including bus boarding islands with Telegraph’s new protected bike lanes, coming this Summer, and Shoreline Drive already has boarding islands.
Here’s what we want on Hearst Ave, between Shattuck Ave and Oxford St:
This option keeps parking on both sides of the street, but removes parking at spots where turn pockets are needed for car movements. With this design, you can ride along the curb, where most people naturally want to ride, with a buffer between you and either parked or moving cars. This proposal is in addition to the already good designs the City of Berkeley has put forth for the project.
Contact Aaron Sage, Project Manager, with your ideas and support.
Your support over the past several year made a huge difference in convincing Berkeley to apply for full funding of the Hearst Avenue Complete Street project from competitive county funds, and your votes in our online polls in April helped sway county decision-makers that this project is a priority and should be awarded funding. From our Berkeley Sunday Streets DIY demo project (shown above), to online petitions you signed in support, and a huge showing at the Berkeley Transportation Commission, our calls for a better Hearst Ave were heard. A new $3 million complete street is on the way.
This project is a high priority new bikeway because it is not only going to benefit Berkeley with safe and comfortable new bikeways, but will benefit all of the East Bay by implementing the type of modern, American-class bikeway that the rest of the East Bay will learn from and replicate. Other East Bay cities will learn about bike boxes, green paint and protected bike lanes.
The project extends from Shattuck Ave to Euclid Ave and also includes many great pedestrian and transit improvements, detailed below.
Because the project is fully-funded, Berkeley will do a complete environmental analysis starting this year and complete final designs in 2014, with construction expected to start in 2015. We know this is still two years away, and we wish it could happen sooner, but it is a tremendous victory of our collective grassroots advocacy, and we are confident that you are going to have a smile on your face when you start riding this amazing new bikeway. We will continue to work with Berkeley to ensure this project is completed as promised and as soon as possible.
Preliminary designs for the Hearst Avenue bikeways can be found online here: https://www.ebbc.org/files/blog_files/node_9935_user_545_Hearst_St_bikeways.pdf
The Hearst Avenue Bikeway Project is a proposal to do a road diet on Hearst Avenue and install many much-needed bike and pedestrian improvements. Staff are proposing to reduce the road from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, install bike lanes, install a center median to help pedestrian crossing, redo the intersection of Hearst at Arch/LeConte, install Berkeley’s first buffered bike lane, add green bike bikeway features including advance stop boxes, and more. We will need your continued support to convince the City to finally make Hearst Avenue a safe street to walk across and a safe street to bike on. See you there.
The City of Berkeley is working with UC Berkeley on many exciting bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Hearst Avenue, between Shattuck Ave and Gayley Road, the entire north side of campus. Most exciting is a road diet, bringing Hearst down from 4 lanes in each direction to 2 lanes with bike lanes and a center median. A road diet not only makes pedestrian crossings much safer and allows space for bike lanes, it also improves traffic flow significantly. Advocates will also get green bike lanes and advance stop boxes at the intersection of Hearst and Oxford, and possibly at the intersection with Le Conte. East of Le Conte, a separated buffered bike lane and a new sidewalk is proposed, up to Euclid and North Gate. In the downhill direction, green-backed bike sharrows are proposed in a shared lane arrangement, which should be sufficient given the downhill on this stretch of Hearst. More information on the Hearst Avenue Corridor Project. Background information on Hearst Avenue Bike Lanes.