Op-Ed: We need a safer, greener way to Tom Bates fields

The Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex, located just south of Golden Gate Fields, has been a boon to local athletes since it opened in 2008. The Mayor’s office estimated at that time that the fields would be used by about 250,000 people each year, and a look at the fields at almost any time of day confirms that they are indeed well-used year-round by both adults and children.

However, the complex is through the insanely dangerous Gilman/80 interchange, which is difficult enough for vehicles to navigate safely, and is essentially impassable by foot or on a bike. The reason that’s an issue is because there’s *no* public transportation to or from the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex.

During the height of soccer and lacrosse seasons, the fields are probably used by 100 or more kids per hour between 3:30 and 7:30 or so. They’re heavily used all day Saturday and Sunday as well. Because there’s no public transportation available, and because the route to the fields is through the most dangerous intersection in the area, kids have to be driven there. That’s terrible for the environment, for conditions at that already overtaxed intersection, and for traffic in town in general.

Shame on us for making a facility in town that’s essentially only accessible by car.

Athletes who live south of University have the option of using the pedestrian bridge to cross the freeway and follow the bike path to the field — my own daughter does it that way — but that’s impractical for those in most of Berkeley.

I’d like to see the city or AC Transit ensure that there’s some reliable, timely transportation to these fields, ideally from downtown/BHS, and possibly passing one or more of the middle schools.

If our young athletes could get to the fields safely without having to get there by car, we’d all be better off.

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Nancy Humphrey is a Berkeley resident and a soccer mom who drives to the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex several times a week, year-round.