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Berkeley bike lane plan hits speed bump

Berkeley bike lane plan hits speed bump
Berkeley bike lane plan hits speed bump 02:49

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- The Berkeley City Council will reconsider a controversial plan to stripe dozens of parking spaces for new bike lanes on a busy commercial corridor.

One council member believed the council was misled and should pause the plan to remove street parking on three blocks of Hopkins Street.

Back in May, the council voted 8 to 1 to remove parking despite strong opposition.

On Oct. 11, the council will again vote to decide if they'll slam the brakes on that plan.

District 5 councilwoman Sophie Hahn represents the area and voted for the plan in May. She said the council was misled by staff and believed the plan would remove 30 to 35 parking spots. She said they were not told the project would actually remove 60 spaces, many of them near small businesses.

"The problem is we didn't have the real data about the impacts of the decision we made and the impacts are significantly greater than what we were told," Hahn said.

She said the city will install bike lanes on nine other blocks, mostly residential, along Hopkins Street. Her proposal would pause bike lanes on three blocks from McGee Avenue to Gilman Street.

"We might make the same decision again but we need to do that fully and fairly," Hahn said.

Bethia Stone has been a regular shopper at the Monterey Market on Hopkins Street for at least 10 years. The south Berkeley resident goes out of her way to shop on the Hopkins Street corridor.

She said she loves it because of the quality mom-and-pop shops selling fresh fish, meat, cheese and veggies.

"If it makes the parking more challenging ... I would come less to shop on along this corridor," said Stone.

Parking is already tough. She circled around for about 10 minutes before getting a parking spot.

"I don't ride my bike anymore. I have some mobility issues at the moment," Stone said.

Businesses owners say losing parking means losing customers.

"Seventy-five percent of my customers are seniors. I mean, how are they going to carry their groceries on their bike?" asked Frank Zhang, owner of Hopkins Street Bakery.

Climate activists said encouraging younger people to bike will make it safer for everyone.

"It was a surprise. An unfortunate development. Our city should be focused on moving forward, not backwards when it comes to street safety and climate action," said Ben Gerhardstein, co-founder of Walk Bike Berkeley.

"I'll be showing up to the city council meeting on Zoom with some friends. We're all interested in making Berkeley, Albany and the surrounding communities more bike-friendly," said climate activist Nick Heller.

If the council votes to pause the bike lanes on three blocks of Hopkins Street, they'll come back at a later time to decide if they want to move the bike lanes to a different street.

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