More than 100 people turned out Monday night to offer feedback to the city of Berkeley, which is updating its Bicycle Plan for the first time in over a decade.
The city held a public workshop on the bike plan at the Central Library, complete with interactive exhibits, snacks and activities for children.
The plan itself, which was adopted in 2000, is an overview of the city’s existing bike networks, facilities and programs. It discusses local bike use, problems in the infrastructure and how cycling fits into the city’s overall sustainability goals. The update will help the city figure out how to improve its facilities going forward, and get a better sense of existing conditions.
Participants perused informative displays — many of which sought comments in various ways — that were set up around the library’s community room. They included data about who is cycling in Berkeley, the economic benefits of cycling, attitudes of local residents about cycling, funding for bike projects, collision information and much more.
Eric Anderson, a transportation planner for the city, called the turnout “incredible.”
Anderson said he believes there is huge potential to increase the number of cyclists in Berkeley by improving conditions around town. He pointed to a chart that showed survey results tallied from more than 600 local residents throughout the city, which indicated that, while about 19% of people are confident cyclists, another 71% are interested but concerned about existing conditions.
If the city can make improvements to get more people from that category on bikes, that would be a huge boost to the city’s cycling population, he said. Just 10% of respondents said they had no interest in cycling around the city.
Anderson also pointed out that potential funding for cycling-related programs and resources — estimated at more than $7.5 million — has gone “through the roof.” In prior years, the number has been a fraction of that amount.
Dave Campbell, of Bike East Bay, a regional bike advocacy organization that is helping promote the Bicycle Plan update, said he was interested to see data on collisions involving cyclists on one of the displays set up at the library.
According to that data, drawn from the California Highway Patrol, from 2001 to 2012 nearly 25% of all accidents in the city involved cyclists. Of those, more than 1,700 resulted in injuries, and there were two fatalities.
Intersections with a high number of collisions involving cyclists included Alcatraz Avenue and Adeline Street, Hearst Avenue and Oxford Street, University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Ashby and College avenues, and Shattuck and Durant avenues.
Campbell said the data shows there is a huge need for cyclist-related safety improvements in the city network. Bike East Bay is pushing for better crossings where bike boulevards intersect with major thoroughfares, protected bike lanes on busy streets and better pavement conditions.
Attendees said they are excited about the process and potential for improving cycling conditions in the city.
Mimi Torres, 29, said it had been a “no brainer” for her to attend Monday night’s workshop, as a Berkeley resident who gets around for the most part on her bicycle.
“I’m excited to live in a city where there’s so much support for cycling,” she said, as she made her way around the room and took in the various displays.
Said Kevin Cheng, 27, from worker-owned Berkeley-based bicycle courier service Pedal Express, “it’s good to see more people are biking.” He said many cyclists have a tough time in Berkeley crossing the busy thoroughfares, which can be dangerous, and that he hopes to see the city make that safer and easier. But he said he also likes the city’s network of side streets that are linked and bike friendly.
Nadir Jeevanjee, a 35-year-old Berkeley father who brought his two young children to the workshop, said he has a regular cross-town bicycle commute to drop off his son at school, then make his way to campus where he works.
Jeevanjee said he is happy with the city’s bike network, but is excited about proposed improvements on Hearst Avenue that are slated to include new bike lanes. Currently, he said, “that can be tricky to navigate.” The city is also looking at the creation of protected bike lanes on Bancroft Way and around town, which Jeevanjee said would be beneficial.
Many parents brought children to the workshop, and took time to explain the different charts and maps to them, encouraging them to share their feedback, too, with stickers, markers and comments.
Anderson, the city transportation planner, said there will be another workshop this fall to get more public input. In the meantime, a consultant on the project has set up a website about the Bicycle Plan, which includes an online survey for those who still want to give feedback, as well as additional information.
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