The Milvia Street Connection
Relentlessly Connecting the Gap
By Dave Campbell
In 1971, Milvia Street was first highlighted on the Berkeley map for its potential for bike lane greatness. 1971 was a long time ago, and Milvia St. still doesn’t have a world- class bike lane. You and Bike East Bay have been there at every opportunity to show support for a connected Milvia St. and better downtown Berkeley. After five decades of planning, pushing, and perspiration, we are so close to seeing this important network connection come to life.
Milvia St. is an essential connection in the biking network, linking protected bike lanes downtown with bike boulevards from across Berkeley. For a low-stress network, the feeling of a smooth, easy ride should last the whole route. Milvia St. runs along Berkeley High School and parallel to downtown and the UC campus — where pedestrians and people on bikes can and should travel easily. In fact, central Berkeley boasts some of the highest concentrations of bicycling in the nation. But on streets with bike infrastructure in Berkeley, Milvia St. still has the highest number of collisions[i].
Why are we still waiting for a better bike lane on a street that’s a perfect connector? Bike East Bay members asked that question, and came out on Bike to Work Day in 2015, creating a pop-up protected bike lane to show what’s possible.
One year later, the Berkeley Bicycle Plan update emphasized Milvia St. as the highest priority project in the city. Great news, but we know bike plans need follow- through to get results on the ground. Bike East Bay urged the City of Berkeley to apply for funds to create an improved Milvia St. bikeway, and pushed for the funds to be put into action early. With money in hand and a successful demonstration that protected bikeways on Milvia St. work, lanes on the ground were within reach.
But projects officially labeled as “high priority” can still take years to build. In late 2018, the City of Berkeley said that improvements on Milvia St. could take three more years. Bike East Bay joined with Walk Bike Berkeley to step in again, letting the city know the public is not willing to wait. Because of your voice, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin made a promise to install bike lanes by Bike to Work Day 2019.
We are so close to having bikeways we need for more connected biking downtown. Milvia St. is under construction for pipeline work, so better bike lanes by Bike to Work Day don’t seem likely. Bike East Bay, our members, and Walk Bike Berkeley will take every opportunity to inch this project forward. Together we’ve won exceptional bike lanes, building the Berkeley network one project at a time. After 50 years, we are about to complete the next connection.