Time to Approve Berkeley's Innovative Bike Plan

Efforts to weaken Berkeley’s innovative bike plan have been pushed back thanks to your hundreds of emails in support. Berkeley City Council should now be ready to approve the plan May 2 and we are ready to celebrate, with you. Meet May 2, 6:00pm at Au Coquelet Cafe to prep for the City Council meeting at 7:00pm.

What You Can Do

  1. Send an email asking your council member to: 1) preserve a strong Berkeley Bike Plan and 2) direct city staff to complete the Tier 1 priority bike projects by 2025. See the talking points below and click this link to find your Berkeley councilmember. Please cc Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director, Dave@BikeEastBay.org.

  2. RSVP for the May 2 City Council Meeting to approve Berkeley’s Bicycle Plan. Tell Us You’re Coming

  3. Join our Mayor and City Council Bike Ride on Bike to Work Day May 11. Details here.

Your support is crucial for keeping these important safety upgrades in the plan. Thank you for telling your city councilmembers that you support building a network of low-stress, family-friendly bikeways in Berkeley.  

Talking Points in Support of the Berkeley Bike Plan

Dear Councilmember:

At the May 2 city council meeting, please vote to approve the proposed Berkeley bike plan and start work on building a protected bikeway on Milvia Street as proposed in the plan.

  • I support the proposed Berkeley Bike Plan because it will connect the city with a dense network of bike boulevards, protected bike lanes, and protected intersections that 90% residents say would feel safe enough to ride around town.

  • The proposed bike plan makes this possible by upgrading 20 streets with protected bike lanes, adding 9 protected intersections, designating 9 new bicycle boulevards, and improving safety at 16 intersections by adding on-demand (HAWK) crossing signals for bicycles and pedestrians.

  • Please do not weaken the Bike Plan by removing any of these elements that will increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Why You Need to Act Now

A small but vocal group has met with city staff, asking them to remove the 20 protected bike lanes and 9 protected intersections in the plan. Removing these upgrades would result in a much weaker bike network in Berkeley. Not only would these upgrades give you a more enjoyable ride, protected bike lanes are crucial for protecting the most vulnerable riders in our community — new bicyclists, young riders, and our elders — from fast moving traffic.  

What makes the plan so great? For the past 18 months, Bike East Bay has worked with city staff and over 1,000 community members to create a strong bike plan that connects the city with a dense network of low-stress, family friendly bikeways. The proposed bike plan will upgrade 20 busy streets with protected bike lanes, add 9 protected intersections, designate 9 new bicycle boulevards, and improve safety at 16 intersections by adding on-demand (HAWK) crossing signals for bicyclists and pedestrians.  A 2015 survey of Berkeley residents reported these kinds of bikeways would make 90% of residents feel safe enough to ride around town.

Please let your city councilmember know that you support a strong Berkeley Bike Plan. They need to hear that Berkeley residents oppose removing any of the planned safety upgrades for bicyclists and pedestrians. Full details on Bicycle Plan here.

Here is the proposed Low-Stress Bikeway Network

Berkeley Final Low Stress Bikeway Network.png

Note this is the ‘low-stress’ bikeway network. The complete bike network includes routes on many more streets all around Berkeley, including areas in north Berkeley and west Berkeley. Three are three types of low-stress bikeways included: 1) many miles of cycle tracks or protected bike lanes, 2) existing and new neighborhood bicycle boulevards, and 3) a few off-street pathways such as the Bay Trail. Each of these types of bikeways should appeal to most everyone interested in bicycling more and make parents fell comfortable bicycling with their children.

Here is Berkeley’s Tier 1 Priority Network, shown in red

Berkeley Tier 1 Priority Bike Network.png

Berkeley’s Plan sets a goal of completing the Tier 1 by 2025, in 8 years. You’ll notice approximately 14 priority projects, which means Berkeley needs to average about two projects/year. We have work to. Fortunately, Berkeley voters approved Measure T1 bond, which will provide additional millions to repave streets over the next 5 years, and already Public Works is proposing to include Adeline Street, Hopkins Street, and Monterrey Avenue in their list of priority streets for repaving. We are pushing that these streets all receive protected bike lanes, as called for in the Bicycle Plan.

Thanks to your input, the network is much improved over previous versions in several respects. The network is much denser than before, which means that you will have a shorter distance to travel in order to get on to the network, and the network will deliver you closer to your destination-a key improvement over Berkeley’s previous bicycle plan. The crossings of bikeways and busy streets include more protection-9 additional protected intersections to go with Berkeley’s first protected intersection at The Alameda and Hopkins Street and 16 HAWK Beacons. Think of HAWKs as ‘on-demand’ traffic lights for bicyclists crossing busy streets. Berkeley is installing one of these soon at Hillegass & Ashby as part of the Caldecott 4th Bore Tunnel mitigations, which Bike East Bay fought for.

While there are issues with the Plan’s proposed 23 Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFBs), which are no more than flashing advisory lights warning motorists but not requiring them to stop, the Plan acknowledges and directs staff to ensure the effectiveness of RRFBs match the effective of HAWK signals or be upgraded thereto. While not ideal, we can work with city staff on that approach given finite resources.

You will note that there are several ‘Complete Street Corridor Studies’ in the Plan, each stopping short of completely redesigning their street with a bikeway. Rather, the plan states what type of bikeway should be on that street, and leaves it to a later project-level, community-driven design to determine what the rest of the street looks like. This is how all bike plans should approach the issue and an important tenant of Bike East Bay advocacy–all plans should reflect public input received, and not be compromised by imagined political concerns.

An important point to underscore here is that these follow on complete street plans will require an earnest discussion of what roadway space to repurpose for bikeways. And such an earnest discussion will likely include a discussion of rebalancing the street with less parking or fewer travel lanes. A vote for this bicycle plan is a vote for a healthy discussion about Berkeley’s priorities going forward for moving people and building great streets. Is Berkeley about moving people, or moving (or parking) just cars?

Jesse and Council cutting a ribbon on Fulton Street.jpg

From former Mayor Tom Bates declaring back in 2013 that Berkeley will have the best bicycle plan in America, to former Councilmember and now Mayor Jesse Arreguin stating in 2016 that all new bikeways in Berkeley should be like Fulton Street’s protected bike lane (shown right), Berkeley is poised to take its place as one of America’s best cities for bicycling, with a lot of work left to do, about $35 million worth. How did we get here? Input from literally thousands of people passionate about Berkeley’s potential to improve bicycling.

Hundreds of cities in North America are reimagining and rebuilding their bikeway networks to include physical separation from traffic, and in doing so are encouraging more people to try bicycling for the first time. As more people bicycle, the safer streets become for all users. Learn more about Berkeley’s growing network of low-stress, protected bikeways. Oakland and Alameda are both moving forward designing and building networks of protected bike facilities. Read the latest encouraging news about Telegraph Avenue’s protected bike lanes, just released by Oakland Department of Transportation–Telegraph Avenue Progress Report. And for a comprehensive update on protected bike facilities, read the FHWA Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide, released in 2015.

Next up after Council approval of the bike plan and green-lighting Milvia Street is an expected grand opening of Berkeley’s next protected bike lanes – Hearst Avenue this May.