Three weeks after a bicyclist was struck and seriously injured on Fulton Street, the City of Berkeley continues to delay safety improvements for bicyclists. Despite widespread news coverage, the City of Berkeley waited weeks to make an official response to Bike East Bay’s call to immediately stripe a bike lane on Fulton Street. While we received a response today (February 23), it does not give a timeline for adding a bike lane to Fulton Street. As a result, we are asking members and supporters to keep up the pressure emailing Berkeley’s City Manager to authorize and fast track this project.
This preventable crash needs to be a wake up call to the City of Berkeley, as well as cities across the East Bay. Berkeley has one of the highest bicycle mode share numbers in the country, but also has some of the highest numbers of bicyclist and pedestrian collisions by cars in the Bay Area. The city’s once progressive bikeway network is now plagued by long delays for planned improvements. In addition, there is a lack of progress towards fixing major gaps in safety and connectivity, especially where the bikeway network crosses or overlaps with high traffic streets. The City of Berkeley must address these safety issues for people on foot and on bike.
While waiting for a meeting with Berkeley’s City Manager, Bike East Bay met productively with city staff and city council members in the past two weeks to gather support for fast tracking the installation of bike lanes on Fulton Street. Staff know how to stripe this bike lane, but they need direction from the City Manager to ‘green light’ it. We will be bringing this project to Berkeley City Council for approval by March 15 for such approval, but the City Manager has the authority to start this work immediately.
Bike East Bay received over one hundred petition signatures in the first 24 hours in support of our February 9 letter calling for a response from the City. We have now sent a second letter with updated asks for fast tracking a protected bike lane and to meet with the city manager. The bicycling community’s outrage has been fueled from knowledge that the city declined Bike East Bay’s call to stripe a bike lane when Fulton Street was repaved in 2015. Berkeley staff know how to make this project happen on time, but they need approval from the City Manager and City Council.
The Fulton Street bike lane was approved 17 years ago in Berkeley’s first Bicycle Plan. With your help, we will not only push the city to stripe it by Bike to Work Day, we can together change the city’s culture to be responsive and pro-active for bicycling safety. Please call and email City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley and your district council member today.
Send an email to Berkeley City Manager, Dee Williams-Ridley, at firstname.lastname@example.org and CC your district councilmember (click this link to find your Berkeley councilmember).
Subject: I support a protected bike lane on Fulton Street
Dear City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley,
I urge you to authorize and fast track striping a protected bike lane on Fulton Street by Bike to Work Day, May 12, 2016. As a supporter of safer bicycling on busy streets in Berkeley, I agree with Bike East Bay that Fulton Street needs a safe bike lane, as do many other streets in Berkeley.
In addition, I am calling on the City of Berkeley to vastly improve its commitment to better bikeways. We can no longer wait 17 years for bike lanes, which is how long we have been waiting since the Fulton Street bike lane was approved in the first Berkeley bike plan. In addition, I support the installation of protected bike lanes on busy streets to provide Berkeley residents the highest level of safety and comfort, which will encourage more to ride a bicycle for transportation. Please provide Public Works all the resources they need to ramp up efforts to redesign Berkeley’s streets to create a safe, comfortable and attractive bike network.
Thank you for your commitment to this urgent problem.
[your Berkeley address, work or home]
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District 2 - Cheryl Davila
District 3 - Ben Bartlett
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send your email to Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who used to be District 4 Councilmember
District 5 - Sophie Hahn
District 6 - Susan Wengraf
District 7 - Kriss Worthington
District 8 - Lori Droste
February 23, 2016
City of Berkeley
2180 Milvia Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Re: Follow up to Letter of February 9 concerning Fulton Street bicyclist collision on February 2, 2016
Dear Ms. Williams-Ridley:
I am writing to follow up on the letter Bike East Bay sent to you on February 9th regarding the horrific crash involving Megan Schwarzman, a Berkeley resident who was struck while riding her bike on Fulton Street three weeks ago on February 2. While your staff have acknowledged that a response is being prepared, we have not yet received a direct response from you. Meanwhile, we have had many productive conversations over the past two weeks with City of Berkeley council members and other city staff regarding the specific requests in our letter dated February 9th. We would very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you directly and to urge you to give staff the direction they need to move forward.
We are encouraged by the responses of city staff, including City Attorney Zach Cowan, that it is possible to quickly move forward in improving safety for bicyclists on Fulton Street by upgrading the planned bike lane to a protected bike lane. We have been informed that with fast action, this project potentially can be completed by Bike to Work Day on May 12, 2016. With the support of council members Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, we will be bringing this project to the Berkeley City Council by March 15th for approval of the protected bike lane and any needed parking removal. Your authorization is needed right away to get this project moving.
With this information, we now make these requests in addition to those stated in our letter dated February 9th, 2016, in order to fast track installing protected bike lanes on Fulton Street by May 12th, 2016:
Green light the project to stripe a protected bike lane on Fulton Street. Specifically, we ask that you authorize Public Works Transportation Division Manager Farid Javandel to begin work on the design and analysis for adding a bike lane to Fulton Street in order to make a deadline of May 12th, 2016, Bike to Work Day, for completion and grand opening of this project. We ask that you make this authorization by Friday, February 26, 2016
Meet in person with myself and Bike East Bay Advocacy Director Dave Campbell at a time of your convenience this week (other than Thursday) to discuss strategies to complete this project quickly and inexpensively through help that we can offer on this project. We have access to professional planners in the community ready to help with studies and design to expedite this urgently needed project.
This horrific and preventable crash needs to be a wake up call to the City of Berkeley. Berkeley has one of the highest bicycle mode share numbers in the country, but also has some of the highest numbers of bicyclist and pedestrian collisions by cars in the Bay Area. The city’s once progressive bikeway network is now plagued by long delays for planned improvements. In addition, there is a lack of progress towards fixing major gaps in safety and connectivity, especially where the bikeway network crosses or overlaps with high traffic streets. The City of Berkeley must address these safety issues for people on foot and on bike.
There has been an outpouring of support from the community for Megan Schwarzman since her collision. We are so relieved to hear that her recovery is going as well as could possibly be expected given the severity of her injuries. We are also thankful for the incredible responsiveness of the City Fire Department. I believe that the team responding to this call saved Megan’s life.
As Megan begins her long recovery process, we urge the City of Berkeley to immediately improve safety on Fulton Street. We look forward to cutting the ribbon on a newly striped protected bike lane on Fulton Street with Megan, Mayor Tom Bates, our City Council members and yourself this Bike to Work Day on May 12th.
Bike East Bay
cc: Zach Cowen, City Attorney
Phil Harrington, Public Works Director
Farid Javandel, Public Works Transportation Division Manager
City Councilmember Jesse Arrequin
City Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Mayor Tom Bates