Berkeley Trying to KO Hopkins Protected Bike Lane

Photo of Kidical Mass, Walk Bike Berkeley
Photo of Kidical Mass, Walk Bike Berkeley

Walk Bike Berkeley has released a statement concerning what looks like a plot in city hall to destroy (sorry, delay indefinitely) its long-fought-for protected bike lane project for Hopkins Street. Streetsblog will continue to follow this story, but for now is publishing the organization’s statement responding to an announcement by Mayor Jesse Arreguin to put the project on hold.

Walk Bike Berkeley is deeply disappointed by the City of Berkeley’s decision to postpone the Hopkins Street safety improvement project. The decision calls into question Berkeley’s Vision Zero commitment to eliminate severe and fatal road injuries. Our community has waited too long for safe routes to schools and destinations on this high-injury street. We call on the City Manager and Mayor to get this project back on track quickly.

The City Manager cites staffing and emergency response challenges as reasons to postpone safety improvements on Hopkins. The City’s Transportation Division staffing crisis is partially related to mistreatment they’ve suffered through the Hopkins project. This postponement continues a wasteful, demoralizing cycle, further challenging efforts to fill vacancies and retain excellent staff. The City’s inability to deliver safety projects is putting all street and sidewalk users at risk on Hopkins and other high-injury streets.

Emergency response and evacuation considerations do not necessitate further delay. The Berkeley Fire Department reviewed and did not object to the plan for the eastern segment of Hopkins that Council approved last May. It was an important, negotiated balance between the professionals in two departments focused on safety. Both Transportation and Fire are safety departments with needs that must be carefully balanced in the context of Vision Zero. Designing a road where fire trucks can drive 50-70 mph would mean all motorists could do the same, creating dangerous conditions for neighbors and all community members every day. Like other Vision Zero cities are doing, Berkeley must re-engineer dangerous streets to prevent collisions, injuries, and death, while also supporting emergency response and evacuation. The City’s transportation professionals’ plans for Hopkins do so.

To fight climate change, improve safety, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility, Berkeley must make street safety and mobility improvements a normal part of repaving projects. Hopkins should not be repaved without safety improvements.

Walk Bike Berkeley, an all-volunteer group founded by Berkeley residents, advocates to make walking and biking in Berkeley safe, low-stress, and fun for people of all ages and abilities. We want a healthy, just, and sustainable transportation system in Berkeley.