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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

NEW SIGNAL TO EASE CROSSING FOR BICYCLISTS, PEDESTRIANS
Learn how it works

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, August 08, 2018) - A new style of traffic signal in Southeast Berkeley will soon allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross Ashby Avenue with the push of a button or, on bike, simply rolling up to the crosswalk line.

Step by step illustration of pedestrian hybrid beacon cycleThe “pedestrian hybrid beacon” is triggered by sensors detecting bicyclists or the push button. That prompts a blinking yellow, a solid yellow and then a red light for motorists on Ashby at Hillegass Avenue, which is also a designated bike route.

The signal, the first of its kind in Berkeley, increases safety and convenience for those on foot or bike. Previously, people on foot or bike waited at stop signs for a break in traffic on Ashby.

A number of factors went into this site being chosen for this type of light. Ashby Avenue is a major state route, there are a high number of pedestrians and bicyclists, and Hillegass is a bike boulevard. In addition, the light was paid for by Caltrans, which funded the project as part of a settlement with a neighborhood group over the creation of the fourth bore at the Caldecott Tunnel.

See this video, which demonstrates the full cycle of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon.

Once the signal is activated:

  1. The light facing Ashby traffic flashes yellow, then turns solid yellow to warn approaching cars to slow and prepare to stop.

  2. The light facing Ashby traffic then turns red after which a walk phase starts, allowing pedestrians and cyclists on Hillegass to cross Ashby. While the light is red, traffic approaching the signal on Ashby must come to a complete stop.

  3. The walk sign displays a flashing countdown to indicate that the crossing window is about to end.

  4. Once the countdown finishes, the signal on Ashby will flash alternating red lights. During this period, the signal should be treated like a stop sign – cars should come to a complete stop, then proceed through the intersection only if it is clear.

  5. Once the cycle is complete, the signal goes dark until activated again.

The entire cycle lasts 30 seconds.

Hillegass is one of the City's designated Bicycle Boulevards, a network of roads identified as low-volume streets optimized for bicycle traffic. This signal helps to further optimize the Berkeley bicycle network, but is just one piece in the City's efforts to make it easier to bike and walk in Berkeley.

Other recent safety improvements made possible by the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Settlement Fund include, bike lanes on Tunnel Road between Domingo and the Oakland border, a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon to enhance pedestrian safety at the intersection of Tunnel Road and the Uplands, and intersection improvements at Ashby and Claremont avenues, Ashby Avenue at Domingo Street and Ashby Avenue at Telegraph Avenue.

Key corridors funneling people to and from the UC Berkeley campus – Hearst Avenue, Bancroft Way and Fulton Street – now have bike lanes that better protect bicyclists by using parked cars as a physical barrier. Meanwhile, efforts like the Hearst Avenue Complete Streets project make Berkeley's streets safer for all modes of travel, including walking, biking, taking transit, and driving.

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