Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

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an email on Berkeley bicycling

I just emailed my city council member on improving bicycle routes in Berkeley.

Dear Councilmember Darryl Moore:

As a person who uses a bicycle as my primary mode of transportation, I am continually thankful for the establishment of Berkeley’s bicycle route system, including the Bicycle Boulevard network. I have a special fondness for the Channing Way Boulevard, as I, like you, live on that street. It is my usual route to downtown Berkeley and Telegraph Avenue. The signal light at MLK Jr. Way has greatly improved my ability to safely and quickly cross that intersection.

A number of improvements have been made to Ninth Street that has made it more useful for me. One is the retiming of the signal at University Avenue that has reduced wait times. Another is the creation of the four-way stop at Dwight Way. Now, with the opening of Berkeley Bowl West, I can now ride to the signal light at Ashby Avenue. Before this route, the only other alternatives across Ashby for cyclists were at San Pablo Avenue and Seventh Street. Both of those intersections pose difficulties and dangers to cyclists. In Fact, cyclists on Seventh must quickly change lanes between two short green lights in order to continue straight into Emeryville. So getting to Murray Street is an improvement, though the signal at Ashby does not change for bicycles waiting at Ninth. Since the light changes for cars, it should not take much to improve the signal to detect for bikes.

Another dilemma exists for cyclists headed to Emeryville when they reach Murray. They must either turn left, taking them to San Pablo, or turn right, taking them to Seventh where a left turn is not permitted. Turning right on Murray actually puts them back at the hazardous intersection with Ashby. It is possible to construct a path along the old street car route that originally ran along Ninth Street. That area is unpaved and the section between Murray and Folger is currently fenced off. I do not know if this possible path is in the city’s plans for bicycle route development, but I strongly encourage the development of this path that would extend the Ninth Street Bicycle Boulevard to Emeryville’s city limits and connect with that city’s Doyle Street Bicycle Boulevard.

I would also recommend improving the intersection of Channing and San Pablo with the installation of a signal light similar to the one at MLK Jr. Way. This would allow cyclists to cross four busy lanes of traffic while discouraging drivers from using that street as an alternative to Dwight Way.

Thank you for support for bicycling in Berkeley. We know that many more people would ride if they felt safe on the streets. Bicycle boulevards give people the confidence to ride on streets where traffic is lighter and car speeds are slower. The boulevards work best when people can use them to get where they want to go, safely and easily. I believe these improvements will make these two bike boulevards more useful for riders. These improvements are to streets within the bounds of District 2. I request your support for these and other improvements to our bike boulevard network.

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July 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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