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BERKELEY, Calif. — Bike East Bay, Mayor Jesse Arreguin of Berkeley, and other city and community leaders held a double ribbon cutting ceremony for newly repaved and redesigned streets next to UC Berkeley on Friday, January 26. The ribbon cuttings for Hearst Avenue and Bancroft Way celebrated Berkeley’s milestones in designing complete streets, which are safe for all users including people walking, biking, driving, and taking transit.
“People in Berkeley want sustainable ways for commuting to work, getting to class, or going shopping. That’s why I am committed to connecting our city with safe streets and a great transportation system that’s green, affordable, and supports our local businesses,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguin.
The new Hearst Avenue and Bancroft Way embrace major shifts in how residents and campus users travel around the neighborhood. Numbers of people taking transit to campus have soared over the past two decades. According to the 2016 campus transportation survey, over 65% of students already walk or bike, and only 37% of faculty and staff drive alone to work.
“Hearst Avenue and Bancroft Way set a high bar for well-designed, well-connected streets that make life better for everybody, whether you’re walking, biking, driving, or taking the bus. I love that people biking don’t have to compete with AC Transit, buses are moving efficiently, and it’s easier than ever to walk to campus,” said René Rivera, Executive Director of Bike East Bay.
Bancroft Way features the East Bay’s first red bus-only lanes and first connecting, protected bike lanes. Studies of the Muni system in San Francisco show that red bus lanes improve travel time, increase reliability, and decrease collisions and city officials expect to see the similar benefits in Berkeley.
“The transit-only lanes are proven passive enforcement in cities where they are deployed, but our focus is long-term safety of the 10,000 people who ride AC Transit through Berkeley’s Southside each day,” said AC Transit General Manager, Michael Hursh. “Our research found where installed, the painted lanes have proven to reduce collisions, risky driving behavior, dramatically reduces the risk of cars merging into the bus and will diminish motorists suddenly stopping in front of a bus to parallel park.”
The Bancroft Way cycle track (a two-way protected bikeway) connects to the existing protected bike lane on Fulton Street, making these the first connected protected bike lanes in the East Bay. Thanks to the two-way bikeway, bicyclists are now able to both up and downhill on Bancroft Way, which remains one-way for drivers westbound.
“The Bancroft bikeway is a great way for people to connect to and from downtown. It will help students heading to class, shoppers coming to visit Telegraph on their own bike or a bike share, and residents connecting to BART,” said Stuart Baker, Executive Director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District.
Hearst Avenue combines a protected bike lane with bus-boarding islands, a first for Berkeley. The two new bus stops are built away from the curb, allowing buses to pull up to a stop without crossing into the bike lane and enabling people to continue biking behind the bus island. By reducing conflicts with bikes, this feature is expected to speed up AC Transit service and increase safety.
On both streets, Berkeley reduced the number of car travel lanes in order to make space for biking, walking, and transit improvements. Lane reductions in the neighboring city of Oakland have been shown to reduce speeding by drivers and allow pedestrians to more quickly and safely cross the street.
“This is a great start to a visionary transportation network for everyone in Berkeley and all around the East Bay,” said René Rivera, Executive Director of Bike East Bay.
Bike East Bay builds bike-friendly cities through advocacy, education, and fun events. Our members, volunteers, and community leaders lead grassroots campaigns to win new bike lanes and upgrade our streets for everyone who bikes, walks, and takes transit. Join the movement at BikeEastBay.org.