|Berkeley bike boulevard.
During a visit to the San Francisco Bay area in 2006, I spent a transformational day traveling around Berkeley on bike boulevards. It was my first experience using an interconnecting network of bike boulevards and I was hooked.
Bike boulevards are city streets—usually residential streets with low and slow traffic– that have been modified to give bicycle travelers priority. Berkeley clearly marks its bike boulevards with large pavement markings and easy-to- spot directional signs, making it pretty easy to navigate my way around town.
The real appeal of bike boulevards for me–and I suspect for many other folks–is that they are pleasant places to ride. I traveled all around Berkeley using quiet residential streets and passing through interesting neighborhoods. I visited parks, small business districts, the college campus and the bay following the bike boulevard network.
|Cars must turn but bikes can go straight.
Although the bike boulevards used streets that are open to all, techniques are employed to discourage through traffic except bikes. Berkeley’s bike boulevard streets have diverters that direct motorized vehicles off the street every few blocks.
At an arterial intersection, cars were again directed to turn right but I queued up in a bike lane that allowed me to continue forward. A pavement marking shows where to position your bike to ensure that the traffic signal detects you.
|Cyclist waits in lane to cross arterial.
Bike boulevards are gaining traction across the country. Besides Berkeley, you can find these facilities in Portland (OR), Madison (WI), Tuscon (AZ) and Wilmington (NC) to name a few. In Washington State, the cities of Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma have identified bike boulevards in their bike plans.
Info on Berkeley’s bike boulevard network can be found on the City’s website. Check out this StreetFilms video about Berkeley’s bike boulevard network.