Downtown Berkeley’s New 12-Block Protected Bikeway
By Rya Jetha, Bay City News Foundation
A new protected bikeway along a 12-block stretch of Milvia Street from Hearst Avenue to Blake Street is now open, Berkeley city officials said. The bikeway is designed to increase rider mobility in the city while protecting riders through a corridor of parked cars and other barriers to separate riders from moving vehicles. Road speeds for vehicles along the corridor have also been slowed to increase rider safety.
A new boarding island at Berkeley High School allows students to safely get out of cars while allowing cyclists to peddle by, and the elimination of an Allston Way slip lane reduces the risk for pedestrians from vehicles turning right.
The bikeway will also reduce traffic flow by incorporating various one-way sections in ways that preserve ADA-accessible parking and emergency access, said Berkeley city officials.
Berkeley has the highest percentage of people who bike to work among cities of 100,000 residents or more, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Before work began on the bikeway project, over 500 bicyclists rode through the intersection of Milvia and Channing during the two-hour afternoon peak period alone. During the same period, over 400 rode through Milvia and Hearst.
The high volume of riders came with a high number of collisions. Milvia Street had the most collisions in the city between 2001 and 2012, according to an analysis for the 2017 bicycle plan.
The project will make downtown Berkeley safer to bike through to get to Berkeley City College, Berkeley High School, the Addison Street arts district, and other downtown businesses, according to Berkeley city officials. The bikeway also connects riders to AC Transit and Downtown Berkeley BART more easily, especially in tandem with services like BART’s bike station or bike and scooter shares.
The bikeway was paid for with funding from a variety of sources, including grants from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the State of California Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.
The completed corridor complements other protected bikeway networks in and around downtown on Hearst Avenue, Fulton Street, and Bancroft Avenue. Together, the corridors discourage vehicle traffic and prioritize rider safety.
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