Berkeley’s Hopkins Street bike lane project put on hold

Berkeley's city manager sent a letter this week to the mayor outlining concerns about the ongoing Hopkins Corridor Project. Following that letter, an upcoming council meeting set to discuss the project was canceled. As a result, a bicycle lane proposal is now on hold. 

"I am writing to you and the City Council regarding the Hopkins Corridor project, requesting that you postpone scheduling a Special Session of the City Council on April 18, 2023, to hear staff’s report on the Hopkins Corridor," wrote city manager Dee Williams-Ridley.

The letter cited significant operational concerns including vacancies within the Transportation Division of the Public Works Department.

"Additionally, new proposals, external reports, and deeper analysis of this project require a continued review of the work product to date along with a new project timeline. The lack of staffing resources has ultimately prompted me to pause the work directed by the City Council on May 10, 2022 which was to further develop specifications details and designs for the selected Hopkins project," wrote Williams-Ridley.

The approved plan also fails to meet fire code.The letter stated a segment of the project is in the Very High Fire Danger Severity Zone (VHFDSZ) and is a designated evacuation corridor. Under the proposed changes the area does not ensure safe access for first responders during a civilian evacuation.Council members were also copied on the letter.

Councilwoman Sophie Hahn told KTVU the project is on an "indefinite hold."

"I was surprised by the letter," said Donna DeDiemar.

A resident of Berkeley for more than 40 years, DeDiemar has had concerns about the project from the beginning. She’s with Friends of Hopkins Street, an all-volunteer educational and advocacy group formed by and for Hopkins Street residents, neighbors, business owners and friends.

"It was something we were absolutely not expecting," she said. "Whatever it took for the city to come to his senses was okay with us and we’re not done with the idea of having a good bike infrastructure. 

We’re going to continue to work towards that goal."

SEE ALSO: San Francisco's mid-Valencia Street bike-lane pilot project approved

Supporters of the bike lane proposal told KTVU they’re disappointed in the city’s recent decision. 

In a statement, Ben Gerhardstein with Walk Bike Berkeley said in part, "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."

It’s unclear if the bike lane proposal will be revisited.

"It’s Berkeley," said cyclist Issac Menashe. "It’s going to be controversial. Everyone’s going to have an opinion, but it would be great for the plan to make it as easy as possible to have clear and designated routes for cyclists, wherever they are."