Drive-by Ethnography

The Community Based Transportation Plan (CBTP) of West and South Berkeley culminated from extensive community outreach and technical analysis carried out between 2006 and 2007 for the identification of transportation solutions and needs for West and South Berkeley (Wallenberg). The Environmental Justice and Lifeline Transportation Network reports led to the identification of the need of backing-up local planning struggles in communities with low income in the entire region. As such, the project area comprises the Western Berkeley area under the bound of Albany and Emeryville cities, San Pablo Avenue, and Berkeley waterfront, as well as the South Berkeley area bounded to the north by Dwight Way, to the south is Oakland city, to the east is Fulton Street. West and South Berkeley hold 24,818 out of the possible 97710 people living in Berkeley City. Comparing the project area to the city as whole indicates that it comprises a big proportion of residents who are African American and a smaller proportion of Asian and White residents. Moreover, the project area contains a bigger proportion of Latino or Hispanic residents. In the year 2000, 21 percent of the total population of the area was below 18 years of age. Concurrently, older people and seniors comprised 11 percent. In addition, the linguistically-isolated households make up 5.6 percent. A linguistically-isolated household refers to those who do not speak English. Therefore, majority are Spanish speakers. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, in 1999, a whopping 39 percent of residents in West and South Berkeley were living in poverty.

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) provides bus service that is fixed-route in the project area. The schedules of operation by these buses are relatively frequent due to the urban and high density nature of the project area. The West and South Berkeley area is served by a total of 19 routes and residents live within a radius of ΒΌ mile from a transit route. The project area generally consists of a well-connected network of streets based on the original platted city street grid with numerous east-west and north-south routes which aide walking for transportation. Furthermore, multi-use paths are to be found along the Berkeley Marina and the waterfront, a bridge over the Interstate 80 freeway connecting the Aquatic Park to the waterfront is also included. Moreover, the well-connected city street grid is also taken advantage of by the bikeways in the project area ranging from lanes in residential areas to bicycle boulevards. The location of these bicycle boulevards is on low-volume streets which are parallel to the major streets in the city. The strategic location of the boulevards is so as to offer safe alternatives rather than riding on busy streets. Thus, the well-connection of the network can lead cyclists to a myriad of destination within the city. In the next place, parking facilities for bicycles are to be found throughout Berkeley. In addition, there are sidewalk racks along all the main commercial corridors.

On the other hand, the type and quality of housing under the project area is determined by many factors among them vehicle availability. Statistics in 2000 indicate that 2071 households in West and South Berkeley did not have a private vehicle. Additionally, 45 percent of households owned only one private automobile, while those owning two or more made up 25 percent. Concurrently, the availability of vehicles varied between renter households and owner-occupant households. From this, 26 percent of renter households were without a vehicle compared to only 10 percent of owner-occupant households. Conclusions from the census block groups indicated that a majority of households without vehicles were scattered throughout South Berkeley. In summary, bringing up kids in the two different neighborhoods is definitely bound to instill the unique features of each neighborhood upon the kids.

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