Chapter 4 Bikeway Network and Bike Facilities

 

Introduction

 

This chapter presents the bikeway network for the City of Berkeley. First, the methodology used in selecting the network is described. Then the specific classifications of bikeways and roadway improvements that comprise the network are presented. Lastly, bicycle parking and other support facilities are discussed. The associated costs for each route or route segment, and a description of the implementation process are discussed in Chapter 7.

 

Methodology to Select Network

 

The bikeway network was developed keeping in mind the goals and policies presented in Chapter 2. The primary considerations were to serve major attractors and generators and to improve safety for all levels of users. The development of the bikeway network built upon the existing network established in the early 1970’s (see Appendix D). Opportunities and constraints for additional bikeways were determined from input from the public, analysis of attractor and generator locations and via field reviews conducted primarily by bicycle. Phase 1 of the Bike Plan process collected public input and accident locations. Phase 2 refined this information, examined the Bicycle Plans of adjacent cities, selected the types of bikeways to serve the needs of Berkeley, and developed an integrated bicycle network addressing the needs of the users, while acknowledging the many existing constraints, such as street width.

 

Types of Bicyclists

 

This plan recognizes that there are many types of bicyclists with varying skills and levels of comfort in terms of riding in traffic. While bicyclists can be loosely categorized as experienced adult, casual adult and child cyclists, there are many gradations of cycling competency and just as many opinions as to what makes an ideal bike route. Some experienced cyclists eschew bike lanes, some cyclists will ride on busy roads only if bike lanes are provided, some will ride in bike lanes all the time and some will ride in bike lanes only if parallel residential roads are unavailable. The vast variation in the skills and comfort levels of bicyclists was the major factor in developing several bikeway types for the bikeway network, as discussed on the next page.

 

Bikeway Definitions

 

Bike paths (Class I), lanes (Class II), and routes (Class III) are the most commonly used bikeway types and are defined by Caltrans in the Highway Design Manual. One of the major conclusions of Phase I of this project was that these three bikeway types were not sufficient for Berkeley given the many narrow streets and the high degree of bicycle riding in the City. This led to the creation of two more bikeway types: the Bicycle Boulevard and Class 2.5, described below. The traditional bikeway types and their role in the Berkeley Bikeway Network are also described below.

 

Bike Path (Class 1)

 

A Bike Path provides a completely separated right of way for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with cross-traffic minimized. Few new bike paths are proposed in Berkeley due to the lack of adequate space in this built-out city.

 

They are appropriate where there is adequate right-of-way to provide a car-free environment for a large portion of a bicycling trip. They are also effectively used to close gaps in a route such as connecting two dead-end roads or traversing parks.

 

Due to their popularity with pedestrians, roller bladers and other non-bicyclists, the utility of bike paths to bicyclists is often limited. Serious bicyclists can rarely ride as fast on a bike path as they can on city roads. This is due both to the design of the bike path and also due to the high numbers of slower users: walkers, joggers, people with dogs, and/or strollers, etc. The width of the bike path should be increased depending on the stratification of the users.

 

Bicycle Boulevard

 

A bicycle boulevard is a roadway that has been modified, as needed, to enhance bicyclists’ safety and convenience. It provides better conditions for bicycles while maintaining the neighborhood character and necessary emergency vehicle access.

 

The bicycle boulevards are intended to serve as Berkeley’s primary bikeways, or "bike arterials." The seven bicycle boulevards included in this Plan will serve as the backbone of the bikeway network, providing safe, direct, and convenient routes across Berkeley.

 

The Berkeley City Council designated five streets as bicycle boulevards on Earth Day 1995. These five streets - Ninth, California, Milvia, Delaware/Hearst corridor, and Channing - were proposed in the 1994 Draft Bicycle Plan. This Plan proposes two additions to the list, and one alteration. To complete the desired "spine" of bicycle boulevards; Hillegass/Bowditch and Russell are proposed as additional bike boulevards. The Delaware/Hearst bike boulevard has been replaced with Virginia Street, a quieter street that covers a larger area of the City. As noted on Figure 2, the exact alignment of each bicycle boulevard may change during the design planning phase as each street is studied more closely.

 

While there is no standard Caltrans definition for a bicycle boulevard, they have been tried in other communities, including Palo Alto; Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia. A brief description of the development of the bicycle boulevard in Palo Alto is contained in Appendix E.

 

On a Bicycle Boulevard, bicycle safety and circulation is improved compared to other streets by creating (or in many cases already having) one or more of the following conditions: 

The specific treatment of each bicycle boulevard will differ, depending on the street characteristics, the desires of the surrounding residents and businesses, and the funding available. The bicycle boulevards will be designed with extensive public input, including from neighbors, businesses, bicyclists, the disabled community, and the City’s emergency service providers. There are Fire Stations on two of the bicycle boulevard streets (Ninth and Russell Streets), a fact which will affect the location of any traffic calming devices in these areas. The needs of all user groups will be taken into consideration as much as possible in the bike boulevard design phase.

 

Many of the proposed bicycle boulevards already have some of the qualities described above for creating a bicycle boulevard. Additional treatments would likely include distinctive and informative signage and perhaps pavement markings to indicate to cyclists that they are on a bike boulevard. Where major streets (arterials) cross bike boulevards, some type of traffic control device (in many cases a traffic signal) would probably be installed so that the arterial could easily be crossed. Where appropriate, STOP signs would be rotated so that the bicycle boulevard would have the right of way. In some cases, traffic calming measures such as traffic circles or semi-diverters might be installed. If needed, on-street parking may be reduced to create more room for bicyclists.

 

Bicycle Boulevards are appropriate on streets that generally meet the following conditions: 

The seven bicycle boulevards included in this Plan all meet the above conditions.

 

Bicycle boulevards will provide many benefits, not only for cyclists, but also for Berkeley residents. 

Bike Lanes (Class 2)

 

A bike lane is a striped lane on a roadway for the exclusive use of bicyclists (with certain regulated exceptions). The lane provides additional width where bicyclists typically ride in order to better accommodate bicyclists.

 

Bike lanes are appropriate on streets that generally meet the following conditions: 

Bike lanes are generally not appropriate on streets that have the following conditions: 

Minimum design criteria for bike lanes are contained in the Caltrans Highway Design Manual Chapter 1000. Where possible, these minimum criteria should be exceeded and American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidelines should also be considered. Given that many of Berkeley’s two-lane streets have widths of 36 feet, even substandard width bike lanes could not be implemented without removing parking or converting the street to a one-way one-lane street. For this reason, very few new bicycle lanes are being proposed. For those that have been proposed, detailed studies will need to be done to determine how the lanes will affect the roadway and traffic congestion. Neighborhood input will be solicited on any proposal before it goes to Council for the required approval. It is possible that the City may decide not to install bike lanes on these streets, once the study is complete. Chapter 7 of this Plan further outlines the implementation steps for bicycle projects.

 

Class 2.5 Bikeway - Shared Roadways

 

A Shared Roadway is a roadway that is signed and improved as a bikeway because it provides direct access and connections to major destinations in Berkeley. This bikeway is appropriate on streets that meet the conditions described above for bike lanes, but bike lanes are not physically or politically feasible.

 

The exact improvements will vary depending on street conditions. A menu of improvement options will be available to the city to make these streets as safe and as convenient for bicyclists as possible. This menu will include removal of unsafe drainage grates, restriping for wider curb lanes, repaving to create a smoother surface, signal retiming for safe bicycle clearance intervals, "Share the Road" signs, pavement stencils, and increased enforcement of the posted speed limit.

 

Bike Routes (Class 3)

 

A Bike Route is a roadway that is signed as a bikeway because it provides continuity in the overall bikeway network or it identifies a route which is somehow preferable to immediately adjacent streets.

 

Bike routes are appropriate on streets that do not warrant bike lanes and that generally meet the following conditions: 

Bikeway Network

 

The recommended bikeway network for Berkeley is depicted in Figure 2. The route network is summarized in Table 3, and a more detailed inventory of the network is presented in Appendix F.

 

It should be noted that this is a master plan, not an implementation plan or a detailed feasibility analysis. As such the bikeways depicted in this map and in Table 3 are conceptual. The exact routing could be modified during the course of more detailed studies of specific projects. Additionally, the bikeway designation may change as the routes are evaluated in further detail. In many cases, implementation of these bikeways will require further analysis, public input, identification of funding sources, and further approvals. The implementation steps for bikeways are outlined in Chapter 7.

 

Some routes on the University of California campus are shown on the network map. Currently, all campus roads and paths are open to bicyclists, with some restrictions on speed, except for signed dismount zones near the Telegraph entrance to campus. A north-south bicycle route is under construction on the western side of campus, and a second north-south route is planned for the eastern side of campus.

 

Arrows are used on the map to show connections to existing and proposed routes in adjacent cities. Emeryville’s adopted Bicycle Network Map is included in Appendix D. Oakland and Albany both have draft bicycle plans which were consulted during the preparation of Berkeley’s network.

 

Study Areas

 

There are several planning efforts underway in Berkeley which will include examining bicycle circulation and access needs at a higher level of detail than is possible in this Plan. The larger of these planning efforts are identified in Figure 3. A brief description of these four study areas is presented below, along with general comments on bike access, safety and circulation which have arisen during the Bicycle Plan planning process. These comments and the bikeway network map can inform the bicycle planning for these areas.

 

1. Marina Plan - Anticipated completion date: June 1999 - This Plan seeks to enhance the existing uses, make circulation and access improvements, improve landscaping, and increase access via public transportation in the Marina.

The main issue identified during the Bike Plan process for this area has been safe bicycle access to the Marina. The building of the I-80 Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge will greatly improve bike access. 

 

2. Aquatic Park Master Plan - Anticipated completion date: March 1999 - This Plan seeks to protect the park’s natural resources while enhancing recreational use. Its basic goals include mitigating noise and negative visual impacts; improving circulation within the park, especially for pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchair users; improving park habitat for wildlife; increasing the number of recreational uses and users while protecting habitat for wildlife; and improving park safety and security.

The public has identified the need for an increased number of bicycle access points into the Park, improvement of the eastern path, and improving the paving quality along the Bay Street connection to Emeryville. More recently, with the planning for the I-80 Bridge, the public has expressed a need for improving the appearance and safety of the Addison Street entrance to the Park and the need to connect this entrance with the rest of the City’s bikeways.

 

3. Southside Plan - Anticipated completion date: Winter 1999 - The purpose of the Southside Area Plan is to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood for all people who live, work, visit, and play in the Southside. Among other things, the Plan will address traffic, circulation, and bicycle improvements.

 

The Southside contains many of the more significant "problem areas" identified during the bicycle planning process. Of all areas in the City, this is certainly one of the most critical for bicycling due to the high concentration of bicyclists and the major destination of the University. One-way streets have been brought up many times as a problem: they create access problems since bicyclists can be forced out of their way to get to their destination and they create safety problems when bicyclists ride the wrong way on a one-way street. Other issues that have been raised include the offset intersections along Dwight at Hillegass/Bowditch and at Piedmont, and the inadequacy of the bicycle parking in the Telegraph area.

 

4. Claremont Avenue - Anticipated discussion at Transportation Commission: By early 1999. Final decision date unknown - At the request of a group of residents, the City has begun to examine options for calming traffic on Claremont Avenue. One of the options which has been proposed and is being studied is the elimination of one travel lane in each direction. This option would allow for a center left turn lane and bicycle lanes along Claremont Avenue. The City will present its study findings to the Transportation Commission, which will allow for a full neighborhood discussion of the pros and cons of the different options. Bicyclists will be able to participate in this discussion. A final decision will be made by the City Council.

 

Bicyclists have identified the need to improve bicycling conditions on Claremont Avenue. The high speeds on Claremont discourage bike use, make bicyclists feel unsafe, and increase the severity of collisions. As a diagonal street, Claremont often serves as the shortest route through the area, which makes it key for bicycling.

 

Neighboring residents and businesses are very concerned that a reduction in traffic lanes or parking will increase traffic congestion, make conditions worse for businesses and/or negatively impact emergency response to and through this area. The City’s Fire Department has expressed serious concern about lane reduction on Claremont Avenue. As a primary response route, they believe reducing traffic lanes could have a tremendous adverse effect on emergency response time for both the Berkeley and Oakland Fire Departments.

 

Large Capital Projects

Several large capital projects that will involve acquiring right-of-way are also included in Figure 3. These projects are not necessarily long term, but because they are unique in that they will require right-of-way negotiations which could take substantial amounts of time and resources, they have been placed on a separate map.

 

A. Ninth Street Bikeway Extension - The City would like to build a bicycle path on the current railroad right-of-way that extends Ninth Street south to the Emeryville border. This would allow bicyclists to avoid the dangerous intersection of Seventh Street and Ashby Avenue. Emeryville’s adopted Bicycle Plan shows the path extending southwest and connecting to a bike route proposed for Doyle Street. This project is categorized as short-term in Emeryville’s Plan. Berkeley and Emeryville staff agree on the importance of this project and hope to work together on grant applications to implement the project.

 

B. Santa Fe Right-of-Way Path - Building a bicycle path at this location would require right-of-way acquisition and might present problems at crossings of streets. Nevertheless, as it is one of the few opportunities for a grade-separated bicycle path in Berkeley, it should continue to be considered as a future project requiring further evaluation.

 

Areas for Future Study

 

There are many areas of the City, problem issues, and opportunities which could not be addressed in detail in this Plan, but are worthy of further study. These items could be explored in the next revision of the Bicycle Plan, or as a grant-funded study. Several particularly significant areas are:

 

Access to Ashby BART - This BART station is bordered by high-traffic streets, and has dead-end and non-continuous streets nearby that make it difficult for bicyclists to easily get to and from the station. Options should be studied for improving access.

 

Scenic Bike Route Network - There are many historical and recreational sites in Berkeley that could be connected to the recommended bicycle routes, with directional signage and/or short bikeway spurs. Major recreational destinations, such as the Marina and Tilden Park, are served by the recommended bicycle network, but smaller neighborhood parks, for example, are not necessarily connected to the bikeways. The need for such a network and the feasibility of the project should be explored.

 

Bicycle Parking

 

Analysis

The shortage of on-street automobile parking in Berkeley is widely recognized, and may even discourage a certain number of automobile trips. Similarly, lack of parking is a deterrent to bicycle travel, since bicyclists need more than a space to deposit the bicycle: ideally they need facilities that can also provide security against theft, vandalism, and weather.

 

The City recently installed over 150 bike racks in commercial areas and has been installing additional bike racks on an as-needed basis, as funds are available. (See Appendix D.) BART is completing a project to upgrade their bike parking and to add high security on-demand bicycle parking at its three Berkeley stations and MacArthur Station. The University has, over the last several years, significantly increased their bicycle parking and continues to do so as funds are available. Still a lack of bike parking remains.

 

Lacking convenient and secure bicycle parking, determined bicyclists will make do with what they can find–street signs, parking meters, lampposts, even trees. These alternatives are undesirable for the bicyclist, because they may be substantially less secure; for pedestrians, because they may interfere with movement; and for the City, because they can damage street furniture or trees. Bike parking is an efficient use of scarce commercial district land; on average 20 bike parking spaces can fit in the area required by one auto space. Bicycle parking facilities that are conveniently located and adequate in both quantity and quality can thus benefit everyone.

 

The City’s current Zoning Ordinance requires the installation of one bicycle parking space for each 2,000 square feet of new construction in most commercial districts. In the West Berkeley commercial, manufacturing, and mixed-use districts, bike parking in excess of the requirement may replace up to 10 percent of the required auto parking.

 

Other cities require bicycle parking as a function of auto parking or of the number of employees. Some cities, including Palo Alto, Davis, and Santa Cruz, tie bicycle parking to the type of use. For instance, a school or a commercial recreation facility has a greater need for bicycle parking than an animal care facility or an auto service center. In addition, the ratio of employees to visitors, and therefore of long-term to short-term parking, also varies according to use.

 

Most bicycle parking ordinances divide the required parking between long-term parking (a full working day or longer) and short-term parking (a few minutes to a few hours). Long-term parking is typically used by employees or residents, has low turnover, and requires a high level of security. Short-term parking is typically used by visitors or customers, has a higher but variable turnover (depending on use), should be conveniently located, and requires a lower level of security.

 

Recommendations

 

Berkeley should revise its ordinance to prescribe different amounts of bicycle parking for different land uses, to ensure appropriate levels of security, and to provide for both short-term and long-term parking. The City should also consider developing standards for the size of bicycle parking spaces, clearance, aisles, convenient and visible location, barriers to prevent damage, paving, signs, anchoring, non-interference with pedestrian circulation, and weather protection.

 

Because Berkeley is a built-out city, there are relatively few opportunities to substantially increase bicycle parking through developer requirements for new commercial spaces. When older buildings are reused, it can be physically difficult to include bicycle parking. It might be preferable instead to establish a fund that would use in-lieu fees to provide and maintain bicycle parking in the public right-of-way, and to explore incentives for adding bike parking to existing buildings. Bike parking could also be required for a change-of-use or when substantial tenant improvements are made. These issues should be investigated as changes are considered to the Zoning Ordinance.

 

Even without authority to compel retrofit of existing installations, the City has the ability–budget permitting–to install suitable bicycle parking facilities for its own employees, at public buildings for visitors, in city-owned garages, at parks and libraries, near transit stops, and on-street at popular destinations, such as shopping areas. Adequate funding should be set-aside to gradually add the needed bike parking in the public right-of-way.

 

Bike theft at schools and on the U.C. campus is particularly high and as such, is a deterrent to biking. The City should strongly encourage the B.U.S.D. and U.C. Berkeley to meet the demand for secure bike parking.

 

Ample bike parking at large public events, especially those that take place in City parks, would promote cycling and provide a convenient alternative to driving to the event. The City should consider ways to provide the parking itself, or to require the event sponsors to provide bicycle parking.

 

Ancillary Facilities

 

Showers and Lockers

Some cities require new office and retail construction and renovations over a specified size to provide showers and lockers for employees, so that bicyclists can change into work clothes at their destinations. Such a requirement might drive development costs in Berkeley, already among the highest in the East Bay, even higher in comparison to neighboring cities. The benefits of this proposal will have to be weighed against its costs and its potential harmful effects in determining whether or not to support this possible requirement. A more feasible alternative might be to require developers to subsidize their employees’ use of a nearby gym that already contains showers, as is done in Portland, Oregon.

 

Support Facilities

The City should explore providing support facilities for bicyclists that include air for tires and tools for repair at the Civic Center, local libraries, and other public locations.

 

Bicycles on Transit

Carrying bicycles on transit increases the range and convenience of both modes of travel. The City should support and encourage efforts by Amtrak, AC Transit, BART, and other agencies to accommodate bicycles on transit. The F-Transbay line now has bike racks on some buses. AC Transit plans to expand bike racks to all buses as funding becomes available.

 

Bikeway Maps

The City should create a map of all bikeways and bicycle parking facilities in Berkeley, keeping it up-to-date as improvements are made. The map should be reproduced in a high-quality format and distributed to the public through City offices, schools, employers, community organizations, bike shops, and bike clubs. It should also be placed on the City’s website. The map might also include numbered routes, if the City adopts them. The City should post network maps at key points along bikeways.