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Sunday Streets Pop Up Protected Lane a Hit

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: October 19, 2015

Our volunteers nailed it on October 18 at Berkeley’s 4th Annual Sunday Streets event. Numerous eager supporters of a better bikeway on Hearst Ave woke up early to build Bike East Bay’s 6th one-day demonstration pop up bikeway, this time a full parking-protected bike lane on one block of Hearst Ave.

We taped and signed the protected lane on the north side of Hearst Ave between Shattuck and Walnut. This is the one block where the City has been reluctant to agree to a protected bike lane as part of the Hearst Ave complete street project, due to potential parking loss. To show that parking impacts are minimal, we built out a protected lane with no loss of parking, to see if it would work.

Over 100 Berkeley residents agreed that it did, including 12-14 residents who live on this block of Hearst Ave and own cars sometimes parked on the street. One local resident who got his car towed due to the Sunday Streets event supported the protected lane concept. He signed our petition, which we will be sharing with City Council and Public Works. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, in whose District sits this project, also came by in support and said he is going to do everything he can to make it happen.

Here it is a short 20 sec video of the Hearst Protected Bike Lane:

Hearst Ave Protected Bike Lane Demo Sunday Streets Berkeley from Dave Campbell on Vimeo.

People loved the protected bike lane. Many commented how much it is needed on Hearst Ave due to the high volumes of people bicycling there. Still, several others said that a road diet with protected bike lanes is going to improve the street for people who live there and make the street safer to walk across–both true indeed. What surprised us to hear was two local residents saying that the protected bike lane will make it easier for them to pull into and out of their driveways. Didn’t see that coming, but good to know.

Our Letter to Public Works asking for protected bike lanes on Hearst Ave.

What did we learn: 

  • at most one on-street parking space should be removed, and that is the last one at the west end of the block, closest to La Petit Chochon French restaurant. There is a super-narrow driveway on the back side of the restaurant, which serves a 4-unit residential apartment bldg behind the restaurant
  • all local residents of the block our volunteers talked to during the day supported the protected bike lane on their street and do so knowing that the project may need to remove an on-street parking space in front of their building. We talked with approximately 12-14 local residents of the block
  • there is plenty of visibility on the approach to the block of the protected bike lane, for drivers heading west past Walnut St. This visibility allows the first two on-street parking spaces to remain, although they do need to be shortened to 18ft in length, which is within allowable design limits
  • green paint in the driveway conflict zones helps improve visibility, both indicating to people bicycling that they are crossing a driveway approach and to people driving and pulling into a driveway that they are crossing the bike lane
  • there is an improved consistent experience having a protected bike lane on this block, since the preceding block of Hearst (between Walnut St and Oxford St) will have a protected bike lane for most of its length, including at the end of the block
  • two cars parked in the parking spaces defining the protected bike lane during Sunday Streets, and they did so correctly. One was a local resident returning home and another person coming to dine at a local restaurant around the corner on Shattuck. We caught these two people parking their cars right as they finished, and we comforted to see that they correctly used the newly designed parking arrangement. [The street was closed to traffic and these drivers should not have been on the street, but they found a way when we were not looking]
  • the protected bike lane improves driving into the three driveways of the block, as the protected lane moves the travel lane further from the curb and thereby creates more approach space to drive 90 degrees into the driveway
  • moving the travel lane ten feet further from the curb also will reduce traffic noise in the local apartments from the street–another benefit
  • most importantly, people loved it and said that this protected bike lane design is what Berkeley needs more of to making bicycling safer and attractive to more residents. Studies certainly back this up. The Green Lane Project reports that protected bike lanes installed around North America see an average 75% increase in bike traffic, are generally supported by people walking and local residents, and even improve sales at local businesses. And the safety record of protected bike lanes is superb.

The main issue of contention for this protected bike lane on Hearst Ave is the loss of parking. Downtown Berkeley wants to maintain its parking supply and any loss is seen as an impact. Fortunately, the GoBerkeley Program, which smartly manages parking rates in the Downtown area and Telegraph, has shown that Berkeley can increase parking turnover and bring more shoppers to Downtown.

What you can do:

  • Send an email of support to Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin, and cc Sean Rose in Public Works
  • Let them know that Berkeley needs more protected bike lanes all around town
  • Renew/join Bike East Bay and support our efforts to build a network of safe, comfortable and attractive bikeways for the number 2 city in the country for bike commuting

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