Plan to enhance Berkeley’s Hopkins Road creates dueling visions
Berkeley is planning the way forward for Hopkins Road and the way finest to combine vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians alongside the well-traveled North Berkeley avenue.
The dialogue is electrifying tons of, possibly hundreds, of individuals with differing considerations. Some need protected bike lanes whereas others are anxious that chopping again road parking will negatively influence the strip of shops which can be among the many most beloved in Berkeley.
The dialogue has gotten so heated on social media and in on-line petitions with completely different teams accusing each other of misinformation that Berkeley has prolonged its public outreach interval on the Hopkins Corridor Traffic and Placemaking Study from April to June. The method started in October.
“If we be taught that members of the general public are confused, the main focus ought to be on what we have to do to higher talk,” mentioned Councilmember Sophie Hahn, whose district contains Hopkins Road and who requested the study after pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in 2017.
The examine, carried out by town’s Public Works Division with help from consultants, is analyzing learn how to enhance security for all modes of transportation within the hall, thought of a excessive site visitors accident space, whereas enhancing neighborhood expertise. Some choices being explored embody narrowing site visitors lanes, increasing bike lanes, including high-visibility crosswalks, flashing pedestrian beacons, or sidewalk bulb-outs.
Thus far, the examine has held two distant public outreach workshops: an overview, in October, and a more in-depth concentrate on road treatments including bicycle lane configurations, in March. Attendance was good, mentioned Farid Javandel, a site visitors engineer and Berkeley’s transportation supervisor.
A newly added third workshop is deliberate for June, which is able to focus largely on placemaking, which Javandel outlined as including options equivalent to benches, landscaping, gathering areas and artwork.
The purpose, he mentioned, is for a most well-liked hall plan to be recognized subsequent fall.
Hahn mentioned she is set to verify a strong and considerate neighborhood transportation examine is accomplished. She criticized town this week for not doing extra thorough outreach to all curiosity teams, and for not making timelines clear on the undertaking web site.
Hahn herself can also be the topic of criticism primarily from bicycle advocates, who declare she has backed away from ardent assist for bicycle lanes alongside Hopkins Road.
“What we’ve seen and heard from her is double-talk,” mentioned Ben Gerhardstein of Walk Bike Berkeley, an advocacy group of volunteers deeply concerned within the planning course of. “She mentioned in her reelection marketing campaign that she wished to prioritize the protection of individuals biking and strolling over car parking, and her present actions [public comments in social media and emails] point out in any other case,” he mentioned.
To which, Hahn responds, “It’s patently false and I’m sorry they’ve chosen to be in such an adversarial place. They by no means reached out to me. I’m a powerful advocate for bike and pedestrian security and I really assume we will meet the wants of all of the stakeholders by doing a cautious examine.” Hahn added that she hasn’t taken any last positions on options for Hopkins and is ready for examine findings.
Bumpy begin to examine
Response to the primary two workshops underlies a lot of the criticism of the method and confusion. A portion of the road is lined with well-known companies equivalent to Monterey Market, Monterey Fish Market, Magnani Poultry and Hopkins Road Bakery. Many companies say they weren’t included within the examine outreach, although selections round parking have an effect on their livelihoods. Others say companies are intentionally spreading false details about the method to stir public opinion in opposition to bicycle lanes.
Passionately differing opinions about transportation plans are frequent and never sudden, however misconceptions are hurting the method, mentioned Javandel, who helps oversee the examine.
“The factor that maybe caught us just a little off guard was the confusion across the undertaking timeline,” Javandel mentioned. “The examine is occurring all this yr.  Some folks took that to imply that the ultimate assembly is in June and paving [street work] would start instantly.”
The precise road work wouldn’t start earlier than 2023, Javandel mentioned.
“The sense of time urgency precipitated loads of nervousness over the idea,” he mentioned.
Dueling petitions are circulating on-line
For instance, a extensively distributed Change.org petition referred to as “Pause and Reset the Hopkins Street Corridor Traffic Study,” began three weeks in the past by Kelley Johnson, daughter of Paul Johnson, the proprietor of Monterey Fish Market, says town “plans to get rid of 100% of all road parking between Gilman and McGee on Hopkins” and that work will begin this summer season.
Neither is true, Javandel mentioned. “No determination has been made what to do. Any declare that it’s a performed deal isn’t correct. We have now loads of processes left to do. There’s a protracted technique to go.”
Feedback within the petition, nonetheless, provide a window into the divided views on Hopkins.
“I wish to assist our native companies as a substitute of going to the big grocery shops. However I’m ‘previous’ and can’t bicycle from my dwelling within the hills in Berkeley the place I’ve lived for 35 years. To me, that is one other assertion that for those who’re not younger and match, you don’t belong right here. Please maintain this space open to older individuals who aren’t essentially so able-bodied,” one resident wrote, echoing a sentiment expressed by many others.
The Twitter feed of Walk Bike Berkeley says:
Town received’t meet its local weather targets with out making strolling and biking protected and enticing. And 90% of Berkeleyans wish to bike – however don’t due to security considerations. pic.twitter.com/5mh37gzgCe
— Stroll Bike Berkeley (@WalkBikeBerk) April 1, 2021
“So converse up!” the tweet continues. “Let’s make Hopkins protected for folks to stroll and bike when it’s repaved (slated for 2023)! And let the companies on Hopkins know that you simply stroll, bike, or take transit to them and need it to be safer and simpler for folks of all ages and talents to take action.”
The 90% is calculated from town’s 2017 bike plan, in keeping with Gerhardstein, from Stroll Bike Berkeley.
The group has launched its own online petition to counteract the one launched by retailers and “drivists.”
Bike lanes are the guts of the stress
Bike lanes have undoubtedly hit a nerve with Hopkins watchers.
Workshop #2, held in March, introduced three bike lane choices with completely different ranges of safety to bicyclists: two-way separated from automotive site visitors with bodily boundaries and/or distinct delineation; one-way separated; and buffered, or separated by road paint however shared with vehicles.
The entire choices embody important lack of road parking within the business block between McGee Avenue and California Road or Monterey Avenue.
Based mostly largely on suggestions from this workshop, town is now contemplating creating new bike lanes circling off of Hopkins Road at McGee Avenue, alongside Ada Road and returning to Hopkins at California Road, or additional west. These are referred to as low-stress bike lanes, designed for slower biking on much less busy streets, Javandel mentioned.
The thought is to convey some bike site visitors off of Hopkins, which might permit extra road parking to remain.
Hahn mentioned these sorts of alternate concepts ought to have been introduced on the workshop on bike lanes, slightly than as a response.
Nothing is set, Javandel emphasised, and public outreach continues.
“The residents who stroll and bike loads don’t appear too upset by the prospect of shedding parking, however among the many residents who drive and park extra for his or her enterprise or to get the place they’re going, that’s extra frequent,” Javandel mentioned.
Research present that many companies are helped, not damage, by improved bicycle entry, he provides.
How did it begin?
The Hopkins plan is a part of town’s dedication to Complete Streets, a extensively used complete planning course of that tries to stability the pursuits of all road customers, on and off the highway. Berkeley adopted Full Streets in 2012.
Examples with protected bike lanes embody redesigns of Hearst Road, and Adeline Avenue between Shattuck and Ashby avenues.
Hopkins is slated for paving in 2023, below town’s common road paving schedule.
Hahn asked the City Council in 2017 to fund a examine wanting into extra enhancements within the Hopkins hall that could possibly be performed in live performance with the paving.
“In 2017, town of Berkeley skilled two fatalities because of automotive accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists,” Hahn wrote to the council in 2018. “Each occurred within the closely trafficked Hopkins /Sacramento/Monterey hall (the “Hopkins Road Hall”) one on the intersection of Hopkins and Monterey involving a pedestrian and the opposite on Sacramento Avenue close to Hopkins, involving a bike owner. These tragedies are simply two of the newest and lethal incidents on this busy space, and spotlight the necessity for a complete site visitors examine of the Hopkins Road Hall.”
The hall is contemplate excessive harm, Javandel mentioned, for bikes, vehicles, and pedestrians.
Hahn requested that the examine look at the range of Hopkins Road customers — walkers, bikers, vehicles, public transit, companies, church buildings, faculties, parks, the North Berkeley department library and the fuel station at Hopkins and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The placemaking ought to, she wrote, “Guarantee design and magnificence of enhancements add to the appeal and character of this extremely valued and historic neighborhood business district, and. . . Another issues which will additional improve placemaking and the protected and vibrant use of public areas.”
She acknowledged that the pandemic could also be affecting the examine course of and progress, however mentioned this shouldn’t be an excuse for town not doing an intensive evaluation. “It’s been tough for everybody to function throughout Covid, however I believe it’s our job to do our job nicely,” Hahn mentioned.
Javandel mentioned workers will enhance particular person outreach to companies, faculties and church buildings. A comprehension planning course of has at all times been the purpose, he mentioned. “This isn’t a one-size-fits-all resolution. We have to accommodate everybody’s wants in stability.”
Up to date, 11:50 a.m.: The headline was modified from “Ought to there be bigger bike lanes on Hopkins Road in Berkeley?” to “Ought to there be bike lanes on Hopkins Road in Berkeley?” after a reader identified that the portion of Hopkins Road in entrance of the business space doesn’t at present have bike lanes.
Correction: This text was up to date on April 20 to make clear the connection between Kelley Johnson and Paul Johnson. She is his daughter.