Berkeley Sets Two Standards

It is only two blocks, but it sets a standard - actually, two standards. Berkeley met a self-imposed deadline* to implement a two block protected bike lane on Fulton Street, between Bancroft Way and Channing Way, by Bike to Work Day May 12, 2016. From the moment it opened, the protected bike lane worked perfectly and hundreds of residents loved it. And City Council and many Public Works Department staff celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Bike to Work Day.

What Standards Does This Impressive Facility Create?

  • The protected bike lane was built within three months from a horrific crash that generated public outrage for a street redesign with bike lanes; two months from City Council direction to staff to finish the bike lane by Bike to Work Day; and 36 hours after final City Council approval of the design.
  • The design of the protected bike lane is nearly immaculate.
    • The bike lane is correctly protected both by soft hit flex posts on both blocks, and parked cars on the 2nd block near Channing Way.
    • The lane is curbside the entire way, as all new protected bike lanes should be going forward. It makes for a straight shot down the road.
    • The flex posts have well-designed signs, and lots of them, clearly directing moving and parked cars to stay to the left and bikes to the right.
    • Our favorite part, the end of the protected bike lane approaches Channing Way with a pure Copenhagen-style design, seen here. The cars have a stop back bar and the bike lane continues up to the crosswalk along the curb, visibly placing bicyclists ahead of cars. This is what the Danes do, but is the opposite of what you typically experience on bike lane approaches to intersections. Bike East Bay wants to see lots more of these.
    • The protected bike lane worked just right from the moment the construction crew removed the no parking signs and opened the street back to traffic the evening before Bike to Work Day. Even trucks loading and unloading correctly stayed out of the bike lane–name a bike lane you can say that about.
    • Finally, the process of designing the bike lane is a standard in and of itself. First, staff designed the bike lane where they wanted it (and where we wanted it) properly alongside the curb and then set out to design the rest of the street to work for cars, including on-street parking–this is the exact opposite of current practice. And during the process, staff was not beholden to outdated Caltrans notions of moving the most cars as possible. Staff looked to best practices from other cities and used their own experience and judgment to design the best bike lane. 

The Response

Everyone at our ribbon cutting on May 12 loved the bike lane’s design, as did hundreds of morning commuters. City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin said “this is how all bike lanes in Berkeley should be designed going forward.” We agree. Another staff person at the ribbon cutting said “it’s a game-changer for Berkeley.” Going forward, we hope every new bike lane project on a busy street will be designed to meet or exceed Fulton Street’s design. We will also be sharing the design of Fulton Street’s protected bike lane with other cities in the East Bay in the process of designing protected bike lanes. Check out Streetsblog California’s coverage here.

Thank You Berkeley

From Bike East Bay and the Berkeley community, a heartfelt and enthusiastic thank you for working your butts off the past two months to complete this project and allow so many people to enjoy it on Bike to Work Day. You have set a standard–two of them, maybe three.

What’s Next For Berkeley?

  • Berkeley has put out to bid the Hearst Avenue complete street project and expects to complete work by the end of this year. Hearst Avenue from Shattuck Avenue to Euclid Avenue will get a series of modern bikeway treatments, including protected bike lanes, bus boarding islands, a bike traffic signal, a lot of green paint, and a bevy of advance bike boxes, with the first intersection in the East Bay to have three bike boxes.
  • Bancroft Way gets repaved next year between Dana Street and Fulton Street, and the City is working on a two-way cycle track protected facility, which will connect with Fulton Street’s new protected bike lane. This project could potentially also include Dana Street’s new two-way cycle track protected bike lane, as AC Transit and UC Berkeley are looking at this design
  • And then Milvia Street downtown, which Bike East Bay is pushing to have the City complete when the new downtown parking garage on Center Street reopens in late 2017
  • Berkeley Bicycle Plan Update is expected to be complete by December 2016. Our initial take on draft concepts for Berkeley’s new bike plan. You can stay up to date here: www.bikeberkeley.com

*OK, maybe it was our deadline, but whatever