Chapter 3

Setting

existing bikeway and street system

Berkeley established an extensive bikeway system in the 1970s.  The 1977 Master Plan includes the “Berkeley Bikeways Complete Network” map, dated January 1971.  This map, included as Appendix D, identifies a network of planned bikeways.  Many of these bikeways have been implemented as can be seen in the map of the existing bikeway network, Figure 1.  Berkeley now has more than 15 miles of designated bike routes, lanes, and paths, as well as over a hundred miles of low-traffic residential streets.

 

Although the City dedicated few resources to bike projects in the 1980s, in recent years the City has actively and successfully pursued grant funding, and has also committed some City funds to bike projects.  The following significant bicycle improvement projects have been accomplished recently, or are currently underway:

 

1.  I-80 Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing

This over $4.0 million link between Aquatic Park and the Berkeley Marina and Bay Trail will provide safe, easy travel over the I-80 freeway.  The bridge is expected to be completed in the year 2000.

 

2.  Bicycle Parking

A $100,000 grant was used to install over 150 bike racks throughout the City, providing almost 600 new bike parking spaces.  The city has been installing additional bike racks on an as-needed basis, as funds are available.

 

3.  Bicycle Traffic Signal

A signal that allows bicycles and pedestrians to cross a busy street, while prohibiting autos from continuing straight, was installed with $100,000 in grant funds at Channing and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  This signal enhances bike and pedestrian safety, while addressing the fear of neighborhood residents that a traffic signal will increase traffic on their cross street.

 

4.  Bicycle Detector Loops

Bike sensors have been installed at all 18 intersections in the City that have traffic-actuated traffic signals at a cost ranging from $500 to $1,000 per loop.  Bikes no longer need to use the pedestrian push button to make the light change or illegally cross these busy intersections against the red light.  See Appendix D for a map of the detector locations.

 

5.  Bicycle Improvement Fund

The City Council dedicated $350,000 over a five year period (1997-2001) to fund small-scale bicycle improvement projects that are unlikely to be funded from grant sources.

 

In spite of these accomplishments, there is still much work to be done.  Many of the existing bikeway facilities are poorly marked or suffer from deteriorated pavement.  Many destinations still lack good bicycle access, and many of the most direct routes carry heavy vehicle traffic that competes with bicycle use.  Bicycle travel on quieter routes is often impeded by frequent stop signs and uncontrolled crossings at collector and major (arterial) streets.  Busy one-way streets complicate the area south of the U.C. campus.  West Berkeley, the site of growing commercial activity, is also poorly served by bicycle facilities.  In spite of the installation of additional bike parking, secure and convenient parking is still lacking in some areas.

 

In addition, although the City’s decades-long commitment to residential traffic control has reduced the intrusion of auto traffic on residential streets, it has also created drawbacks for cycling.  Diverters are not always easily traversed by bicycles — especially diagonal diverters, since turning motorists often overlook the possibility that a cyclist might pass through the barrier into their line of travel.  Stop signs, a common tool in residential traffic control, are generally an anathema to cyclists, since stopping means loss of momentum as well as time.

 

Overview of Problems

Phase I of this project included gathering the public’s view of existing bicycling conditions.  This information was compiled from the February 27, 1993 workshop and subsequent mail-ins, and a public survey conducted during Earth Day 1993.  The following summary includes the most commonly cited problems.  In subsequent workshops and in written public comments received since 1993, the below problems have been reiterated.  While no formal tabulation has been made of these more recent comments, in general the frequency that a problem was cited roughly follows that of the problems listed below.  This summary can be useful in prioritizing actions and projects during Bicycle Plan implementation.

 

The number of times a problem was cited is shown next to its description.  Individual problems and suggestions are organized into subgroups.  All subgroups and individual comments that were mentioned six or more times are summarized below, in descending order of frequency of response.

 

Lack of, or Problems with, Lanes on Key Routes (59 responses)

Problems included lack of bicycle access, especially through the U.C. Berkeley campus and to the Marina (8), and the lack of continuous routes through Berkeley (9).  Good north-south, east-west, and diagonal main-line routes are needed.  Street diverters are not comfortably permeable by cyclists and not safe either, since vehicles shoot by without expecting cyclists to appear through them (8).  One-way streets are a problem, since two-way cyclists end up traveling in the wrong direction, or are confused about how to react and continue on such a street after turning from another street (6).  (There was dissent on this issue; a smaller group of respondents liked one-way streets.)  "Slow" streets also present pros and cons, with the majority of cyclists against them. Two problems are that the wavy curves are hard to see or predict at night, and bumps encourage motorists to drive in the bicycle lanes to partially avoid them.  A number of responses (14) pointed out problems along roadways without specifying the exact nature.

 

Intersections, Crossings, and Connections (54)

The most often cited problems were that a crossing is difficult or hard to follow (12 responses) and that there are too many stop signs (12).  Problems ranged from lack of signs or signals to help cyclists cross, auto drivers cutting in too close to the curb, and drivers not heeding cyclists because of poor design (including bike lanes petering out), as well as bad attitudes or education.  Juxtaposed or offset intersections are especially difficult to deal with and are dangerous.  Handling them is unclear to both cyclists and drivers.  The number of stop signs is a problem because it takes time and energy for a cyclist to pick up speed again.

 

Pavement (44)

Most complaints were related to potholes, ripples, and patchwork repairs on roadway pavements (38). Bikes suffer undue wear and tear, and there is personal danger when bike wheels run into wheel-sized ruts.

 

Dangerous Motorists (43)

Cyclists said that motorists act aggressive, dangerous, uneducated, and unaccustomed to cyclists (18).

 

Bike Parking (34)

Most often cited was the need for secure parking (19) and sufficient supply of parking (12).

 

High-Volume or Narrow Streets (21)

Most problems were generally cited as the heading suggests (17).  The emphasis seems to be on safety problems.  Roads are too narrow to comfortably accommodate parking on both sides as well as bike lanes.  Problems are exacerbated where vehicles speed.

 

Car Parking (17)

The biggest problem was the hazard of car doors opening in cyclists’ paths (6).

 

Local and Regional Access (14)

No specific problems were cited six or more times.  The biggest problem was access to and from Berkeley from other regions via BART and buses during commute times, and via roads, bridges, and narrow tunnels at all times.  Also cited were access from BART stations to other areas of Berkeley, and finally, access to Berkeley’s parks and the Marina.

 

Crossing Arterials (13)

Most commonly cited was the need for access to the waterfront. (11)

 

Signal Timing and Actuation (12)

The biggest problem is that bicycles are not detected by traffic-actuated signals and must either wait for a vehicle or run the light. (9)

 

 

Poor Lighting (11)

Most responses did not provide more description.

 

The remaining problems with fewer than six total complaints were: orientation (of signs), crime, debris, inadequate city policies, disincentives for cycling (such as errands that require auto use), and others.