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Berkeley completes transit-only lane on Bancroft Way

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The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District and the city of Berkeley on Thursday announced the completion of a dedicated public transit-only lane on Bancroft Way in Berkeley, which they say is the first such lane in the East Bay.

Bus agency and Berkeley officials said the three-block-long transit-only lane, known as the Bancroft West Pilot, is the curbside lane on northbound Bancroft Way between Dana and Fulton streets.

They said the lane is painted red so that it will be a strong visual cue for motorists and cyclists to avoid traveling in the lane.

Berkeley officials said the Bancroft West Pilot is the first phase in a series of streets and infrastructure improvements under development by the city.

They said the transit-only lane on Bancroft Way is designed to make AC Transit service through the southside of the University of California at Berkeley faster and more reliable for riders.

As part of the project, a fully protected two-way cycle track, aimed at improving bicyclist safety to the south side of the university as well as to its main campus, will operate on the reverse side of the street and run parallel to the designated public transit-only lane.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said in a statement:

“The transit-only lane embodies the city of Berkeley’s Complete Streets Policy. … This pilot transit-only lane incorporates thoughtful design and considerable public input, including from local businesses and leaders in accessible bikeways and streets.”

The mayor added:

“The cost of installation is minimal but the lane’s safety benefit to Berkeley’s pedestrians, cyclist, seniors and motorists is immeasurable.”

Berkeley officials said Bancroft West is the first part of a three-phase project which will represent more than $6 million in infrastructure improvements for the city.

They said the first-ever designated transit-only lane will narrow Bancroft Way to two lanes of travel for cars with the ultimate goal of controlling speed.

AC Transit Board of Directors President Elsa Ortiz said:

“Red transit-only lanes were piloted in San Francisco several years ago and resulted in a travel time improvement of up to 27 percent for their public transit system. … AC Transit is hoping to mirror that reliability for the 10,000 trips our riders take within the southside area.”

The Bancroft West pilot also includes other safety improvements, including upright delineators that separate motorists from an all-new green high-visibility track, new crosswalks at major intersections and the middle of blocks and new placements for bus stops.

The idea is to facilitate the safer movement of pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and buses on Bancroft Way, AC Transit and Berkeley officials said.

The pilot project will cause minor alterations to street parking and slight alterations to AC Transit bus stops.

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