Car-Free Telegraph

Our Design for Car-Free Telegraph

They didn't give us a car-free option, so we designed one ourselves.

Introducing Option Five

Why make Telegraph car-free?

1. Dignity and safety for pedestrians

Telegraph is the most historic street in Berkeley, and it's the most important street in Berkeley for students. We walk down Telegraph every day, and we deserve a Telegraph that puts people first. Right now, almost all of the street is given to cars, with pedestrians forced onto cramped and narrow sidewalks and buses delayed by double-parked cars.

We want to be able to walk down Telegraph without being pushed onto cramped sidewalks. We shouldn't have to worry about fast-moving and unpredictable traffic when we cross the street. 

Pedestrian deaths and injuries are an emergency. Eight innocent people were killed by motorists in Berkeley in 2021, including six pedestrians.

2. Improved bus reliability and speeds

The Line 6 bus currently has to dodge double-parked cars and other obstacles that cause massive delays for transit riders.

Instead of punishing bus riders with delays, car-free Telegraph with a dedicated bus lane will let buses whiz through Southside without being delayed by cars.

Our Option 5 plan gives buses their own dedicated lane, and ensures that they don't have to encounter other vehicular traffic from Haste to Bancroft. Importantly, car-free Telegraph is better for buses than the City's plan to have both a bus lane and a car lane because motorists will still double park and block Line 6 buses if they're allowed on Telegraph.

3. Give small businesses the space to thrive and express themselves

Removing cars from the picture will allow Telegraph's amazing restaurants to build parklets, serve food outdoors, and let their customers enjoy Telegraph's vibrant street life. 

We want Telegraph's clothing stores to have space out front to display their clothes outside and show them to the world, making their storefronts more visible to potential customers.

We want Telegraph's street vendors to have space to sell jewelry and art without just being passed by by students trying to escape Telegraph's cramped sidewalks. 

Of course, we understand how important loading zones are to Telegraph's businesses. That's why we put them front and center in our Option Five plan!

4. Make Telegraph a destination and strengthen its public realm

Telegraph Avenue is the most historic street in Berkeley, and it deserves to be a destination rather than just a road that motorists use to quickly pass into downtown.

Right now, Telegraph doesn't feel like a destination. It feels like a place to pass through. This does a huge disservice to all of the amazing businesses and vast history the street has to offer.

By making Telegraph car-free, we can give people space to people-watch, to converse, and to just be. Telegraph should be where we can interact with people of all ages and all backgrounds, transaction-free. Telegraph deserves to be Berkeley's greatest public space.

5. Save our climate and our lungs

We need to flip the Google Maps times to make walking, biking, and taking transit quicker and more attractive than driving. That's how we get people to make sustainable transportation choices.

Berkeley needs to put its ambitious climate goals first! Students have a right to breathe clean air and they have the right to inherit an earth that is not on fire. Climate change is here, and cars cause it. Berkeley's revolutionary Telegraph Avenue must embrace the future and be on the front lines of fighting climate change.

Car-free Telegraph will improve bus speeds, make walking more attractive, and otherwise encourage people to use sustainable transportation.

Photo credit: Stephen Flynn, Sam Greenberg

Car-free streets around the country

What happens when we give streets back to people? People flock to them.

The leaders of this movement are city planning students. We know what makes pedestrianized streets work, and it's already having lots of pedestrians. College towns are perfect for pedestrianized streets (see some examples below). Telegraph Avenue is especially well-positioned because so many students walk on Telegraph when they're going to and from campus.

Church Street - Burlington, VT
Image courtesy Vermont Attractions Association

Downtown Mall - Charlottesville, VA
Image courtesy Daily Progress

3rd Street - Santa Monica, CA
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Newark Ave. - Jersey City, NJ
Image courtesy Tony Cenicola, New York Times

Pearl Street - Boulder, CO
Image courtesy Pearl Street Mall

Ithaca Commons - Ithaca, NY
Image courtesy Downtown Ithaca Alliance

State Street - Madison, WI
Image courtesy Andrea Roemhild Selbig

Savannah City Market - Savannah, GA
Image courtesy Visit Savannah