Happy Bike to Work Day in Oakland and Berkeley
Bike to Work Day (BTWD) organizers counted over 20,000 people biking to work today in East Bay cities, an increase of thirty percent over the last five years. Streetsblog SF has some coverage of events in San Francisco, and we also took in some of the fun in Berkeley and Oakland, as seen in the photos below.
Berkeley kicked off its celebration with a ride with Mayor Jesse Arreguin, starting at the construction site where new bike lanes will soon line Hearst Avenue on the north side of the UC Berkeley campus. That project will incorporate a road diet, wider sidewalks, and a pedestrian refuge in the center of the street where pedestrians cross. It will also include bus-loading platforms that give a wide space for pedestrians to wait for the bus. The bike lanes will follow a channel behind the platform near the curb, where bikes will be protected from car traffic and not have to weave around buses.
“This is a first for Berkeley,” said Berkeley city planner Farid Javandel of the bus platforms. “We are very excited.”
Berkeley officials highlighted other projects as well: the recent passage of the city’s new Bike Plan, including Berkeley’s Low Stress Vision Network and Prioritization Plan , a protected bikeway on Bancroft Way, new bike rack and corral installations throughout town; Berkeley’s first HAWK Beacon at Hillegass and Ashby; an expanded Bike Station with a new home in the Center Street Garage, and funding for the Milvia Street Bicycle Boulevard protected bikeway.
The mayor, along with Renee Rivera, executive director of Bike East Bay, led a bike ride around downtown Berkeley, along Milvia Street to see the “before” of the planned protected bikeway there. The ride finished at the Berkeley Bike Station, where participants picked up their BTWD bags filled with goodies like reflectors and leg straps and bike lights and coupons for free burritos.
Throughout the East Bay, bike commuters could find energizer stations offering snacks, coffee, and bike tune-ups, at transit stops, stores, schools, and businesses. One tiny local shop, Boonation Custom Bikes, even sponsored an energizer station out of a residential garage. The Oakland Museum of California sponsored a Bike to Work Day energizer station with snacks at the Lake Merritt BART station.
In Oakland, the 24th annual Bike to Work Day kicked off with a pancake breakfast and a mini-bike festival that included informational booths from various organizations. Caltrans was there to provide information about and encourage participation in the formulation of the District 4 Bike Plan. AC Transit passed out free mini first-aid kits, and demonstrated how to use the bike racks on their buses.
Ryan Russo, incoming head of the new Oakland Department of Transportation, spoke about that city’s accomplishments: Oakland’s bikeway network grew by fifty percent over the last ten years; it has the sixth highest percent of bike commuters among cities in the U.S.; it is number one in terms of the amount of bike parking at transit stops, and it has the highest proportion of female bike commuters.
He extolled the Telegraph Avenue protected bike lanes, which, he said, have brought a 78 percent increase in the number of people biking there and a forty percent decrease in collisions for all modes. He promised more bikeways coming to Oakland, as well as expanded bike parking, bike-share coming this summer, and an update of the Oakland bike plan, to be called “Let’s Bike Oakland.”
Addressing the crowd at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland, Russo told them: “Many of you here were integral to the creation of a Department of Transportation, because you recognized that transportation isn’t just about getting from A to B. It’s about connecting Oaklanders with the jobs, schools, and services that keep our city thriving. And you know that biking is one of the most important ways we can reconnect Oakland.”
“Our city cannot thrive when wide streets divide our communities instead of connecting them,” he said, “and when roads threaten lives instead of breathing life into our diverse neighborhoods.”
Lots more photos below.