Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety in Berkeley
Compared to other cities, Berkeley has a high number of bicycle and pedestrian injuries. The main reason for this is because so many people walk and bike in Berkeley, not because it is a dangerous place.
When the rate of pedestrian injuries per walker (not per capita) and bicycling injuries per cyclist are considered, Berkeley ranks as the safest city in California with a population greater than 60,000 for walking and bicycling. The two charts below, generated from data from Peter Jacobsen's Safety in Numbers study, show how Berkeley compares to other California cities with respect to walking and bicycling safety.
Share the Road Bicycling Safety Tips (PDF)
Pedestrian Safety Resource Guide
Requesting Street Repairs: To request a specific repair (e.g., a pothole that needs to be filled), call (510) 981-6620.
Safety Tips to Live By
Always wear a helmet. Broken bones heal; broken brains don't.
Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals. Bikes and cars: same roads, same laws.
Ride in a straight line and use hand signals. Drivers can keep a safe distance when they know your plans.
Ride with the flow of traffic. Cars always win in collisions between bikes and cars.
Walk your bike on sidewalks and through crosswalks. Kids can ride on neighborhood sidewalks.
Respect pedestrians. Give them plenty of space and let them know you’re near with a shout or a bell.
Be seen. Use a front light and rear, pedal, and wheel reflectors. Use a red, rear light for better visibility. Wear bright and reflective clothing.
Watch for car doors. Always leave space when riding next to parked cars.
Follow lane markings. Don’t turn left from the right lane & don’t go straight from a turn lane.
Be cautious when passing on the right of a car. Car drivers often turn right without checking for cyclists.
Look ahead for hazards. Plan for potential problems such as slippery sewer grates, oily pavement or loose gravel.
The City of Berkeley wants to make it easier to bicycle in our city. Bike detector loops at traffic-actuated signals enable bicyclists to safely and easily cross busy intersections.
First, you should know that in Berkeley, there are two types of traffic signals:
Traffic-actuated signals are usually equipped with sensors, called “detector loops” embedded in the pavement in the approach to the intersection. These loops detect the presence of vehicles passing over them. Traffic-actuated signals typically give a green light to the busier street, unless a car, bicycle, or pedestrian wants to cross that street.
Fixed-time signals change at pre-set intervals according to the time of day. These signals do not have loop detectors. Eighty percent of traffic signals in Berkeley are currently on fixed-time cycles.
There are currently 21 traffic-actuated signals in Berkeley. Each of these locations has special, extra-sensitive loop detectors embedded in the roadway in addition to the regular loop detectors. These “bike loops”, as they are called, will detect the small amount of iron in a bicycle located directly above the loop and will trigger the signal to turn green for the bicycle. Bike loops are typically located in the lane immediately adjacent to the curb.
How to Use Bike Loops in Four Easy Steps:
1. As you approach a RED light at the intersection, look on the pavement for the white painted stencil of a cyclist passing through two narrow white vertical lines. This stencil is positioned in the middle of the bike loop.
2. STOP your bike so that your tires are close to the vertical white lines of the stencil.
3. Wait for the light to turn green. Be patient, this may take from 2 - 90 seconds. It is important to stay put until the light facing you has turned completely green.
4. Ride On!
Pushing the pedestrian button does not make the signal turn green any faster.
Note: Don’t be “out of the loop.” In some intersections, the bike loop is in the middle of the traffic lane. The California Vehicle Code states that bicyclists have all the rights (and responsibilities) of vehicles while on roadways. If the loop is in the middle, that’s where you should be to make the signal change.
If you can’t find the loop, the signal won’t change, or a logo is faded: call City of Berkeley Transportation Division at 981-7010.
SHARE THE ROAD Resources
The Marin County Bicycle Coalition has put together several very informative flyers aimed at promoting safe and peaceful coexistence between cyclists and motorists.
The first two links below are fairly large (600 mb or so) pdf files, so it’s probably best to save them to your computer by right clicking the link and then, once saved, opening the file in Adobe reader or another pdf viewer.
Share the Road Bicyclist Information Sheet (PDF)
Share the Road Motorist Information Sheet (PDF)