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Op-Ed: Wider sidewalks would revitalize Southside

Bancroft and Telegraph, via Charles Siegel

Bancroft Way near Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Charles Siegel

Berkeley resident and environmental activist Charles Siegel argues, in an Opinionator piece published today, that a key step on the way to Telegraph Avenue’s revitalization will be to widen its sidewalks. Siegel, author of Unplanning: Livable Cities and Political Choices, takes a closer look at ideas suggested by Berkeley Design Advocates, which inclue converting Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue into two-way streets. Widening the sidewalks, Siegel says, “will create room to plant trees and add cafe seating on this side of the street, making it an attractive shopping street facing campus.” Center Street is an example where this has worked.

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  • DC

    I’m an Architect – and normally I would agree with this. But Telegraph is such a nasty mess – and one that the city has tacitly agreed to cede to the transient population – that such amenities would just end up becoming more of the same squalor that graces that street. The sidewalks there are already pretty large, and cafes and seating and more space for walking would not significantly change it.

    I actively avoid Telegraph and wider sidewalks won’t make me hang out there.

  • Paul Scheurer

    I am a frequent visitor to Berkeley,
    and plan to move there. Rather

    than give-up on Telegraph, why
    bring back some of the businesses,
    such as Blake’s on Telepgraph,
    that offset the squalor?

  • Bola

    I’ve never understood the logic of simply turning over some of the most interesting parts of Berkeley to transients & druggies. Telegraph, downtown, the park across from Berkelely High…. all could be dynamic, interesting parts of town & fun to go to. Instead, they’re just sad and rundown. They don’t have to be all gentrified & chi chi…but clean would be nice. Inviting would be really nice. Live music, outdoor cafes, how great. Wider sidewalks–nice in theory, but really, they’d just offer more places to sleep & park shopping carts.

  • Berkeleyborn234

    3 things that would revitalize South Berkeley 1) make the parks clean,safe and usable for everyone, 2) enforce A ban on aggressive panhandling, 3) have a greater presence of uniformed and undercover officers to reduce the ash of strong a and robberies. Without these steps, anything else is nothing more than lipstick on a pig

  • Charles_Siegel

    You seem to have missed two points in the article:

    – I talk about widening sidewalks on Bancroft and Durant, not on Telegraph. As my picture of Bancroft shows, it is not true that “sidewalks there are already pretty large.”

    – I talk about attracting people from campus. I am sure that there are many professional people like you who would not come to Telegraph. I am also sure that there are many students who already come to Telegraph, and that we could attract more students by improving the streets, just as we attracted more students to Center St.

  • DC

    Thanks for the clarification, Charles. That makes more sense. Guess I didn’t read carefully enough.

  • Joseph

    They DID widen the sidewalks on Telegraph between Dwight and Bancroft and plant trees — during the 1970-71 school year. Before that they were more narrow, and had no trees.