Hearst Avenue Bike Lanes

Proposal Background After the City of Berkeley adopted the Berkeley Bicycle Plan in 1998, the first bikeway that came up for repaving was Hearst Avenue, but the City did not put in bike lanes on the stretch of this street between Shattuck Avenue and Arch. City Staff have over the years stated that the best opportunity to implement the Bicycle Plan is by incorporating bikeway projects into plans for repaving.1 The Traffic Impact Analysis of the EIR for the Downtown Area Plan (DAP) actually proposes taking out a lane of traffic on Hearst, between Shattuck and Oxford, in one direction to provide sufficient room for bike lanes in both directions. At the Oxford/Hearst intersection, the DAP proposes some southbound and northbound lane modifications and one westbound modification in order to retain an LOS of “E.” I believe all these modifications keep bike lanes along Hearst. However, it’s not entirely clear if the DAP is proposing the bike lane treatment the whole way up to Arch, as does the Bicycle Plan.

According to the DAP Traffic Impact Analysis, the existing traffic conditions show LOS of “B” in the morning and “C” in the evening commute at the intersection of Shattuck/Oxford (the intersection of Shattuck/Hearst does not appear to have any traffic LOS issues.) The EIR does not model the lane reduction without the lane modifications of the DAP project. Thus, we may need to do a traffic study for that option using current conditions. However, a bike lane project should ever be required to look to a future year of 2030, as does the EIR, for the reason that roadways can always be restriped if necessary due to changed conditions (Condos and offices can’t be torn down). Need Hearst Avenue is a major east-west bikeway in Berkeley. BFBC did bicycle counts at the intersection of Hearst/Oxford on Wednesday afternoon, September 22 (4:00-6:00pm) and counted a total of 413 bicyclists. Using this number and traffic data from the DAP “Existing Conditions” (page 47), bicyclists make up 9% of traffic on Hearst Avenue. Twice during the evening commute on Wednesday, September 22, on the north side of Hearst at the Oxford intersection, ten or more bicyclists bunched up at the corner waiting at the red light. And many of the bicyclists were using the sidewalk along Hearst, between Oxford and Arch to reach this corner. Such is not a safe condition. In addition, many bicyclists were making the turn from Oxford northbound onto Hearst westbound during the evening commute. There is a tremendous need for bike lanes on Hearst Avenue. By comparison, the City has done bike counts at various locations over the years. At Hearst/Milvia, from 2000 to 2005, bikes counts ranged from 290-356 during the 2-hour evening commute from 4:00-6:00pm. On Bike to Work Day, the energizer station at Hearst/Milvia had counts of 350 (2006), 375 (2007) 239 (2008)2and 482(2009)3. It should also be noted that on Bike to Work Day 2009, eight (8) energizer stations out of eighty-two (82) in the East Bay had bicycle counts of over 400 bicyclists during the morning commute. Finally, at Sproul Plaza on Bike to Work Day, it has been documented that bicyclists make up 12% of the traffic. Climate Action Plan Berkeley set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by the year 2050 (over year 2000 levels) when over 81% of voters approved Measure G three years ago. The Plan has the vision that “[p]ublic transit, walking, cycling, and other sustainable mobility modes are the primary means of transportation.” On page 13, the Plan states that “[g]asoline and diesel consumption by vehicles driving within the Berkeley City limits accounts for about 47% of Berkeley’s total greenhouse gas emissions, approximately 265,500 MTCO2e per year as of 2005. Gasoline consumption is the single largest source of GHG emissions in Berkeley. Community Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions by Sector (2005).” UC Berkeley has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to reach 1990 levels by the year 2014. And the State of California, via AB 32, has the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan specifically states: “In order for the community to achieve its GHG reduction target, transportation- related GHG emissions must decline by approximately 30% by the year 2020. This equates to an annual reduction of about 90,000 MTCO2e within the next 12 years. This is the equivalent of reducing gasoline consumption by over 9.2 million gallons per year by 2020. To say that achieving this target requires significant change is an understatement. Transportation modes such as public transit, walking and bicycling must become the primary means of fulfilling our mobility needs, and remaining motor vehicle use must be far less carbon-intensive. More active modes of transportation will become the mainstream when they are as convenient and cost effective as driving.” (page 19). And this just in from Antarctica: “September 23, 2009: OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists are surprised at how extensively coastal ice in Antarctica and Greenland is thinning, according to a study Wednesday that could help predict rising sea levels linked to climate change.” www.reuters.com We can’t implement the City’s Climate Action Plan or UC Berkeley’s if we continue to devote entire roadways to safe and convenient automobile travel and provide no safe space for bicyclists on busy streets that are frequently used by bicyclists.

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