The 10 worst streets in Berkeley (with one very clear winner)

We asked. You delivered.

On Thursday we published a deep dive into the state of Berkeley’s streets, which explained, among other things, why none of them would be repaved in 2018, along with charts of which ones are slated for work next year. We also asked Berkeleyside readers to vote on what they thought was the single worst street in the city in terms of its bumps and potholes. The non-scientific poll generated a total of 1,193 votes. There was one very clear front-runner.

#1 worst street in Berkeley: Sixth Street

Sixth Street, near Dwight Way. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Our poll threw up an indubitable “winner” — Sixth Street in West Berkeley garnered 396 votes, 33% of the total, and way ahead of the second-ranked University Avenue.

“Sixth between Dwight and Allston, of course. It is known,” wrote Chuck in the Berkeleyside comments in response to the survey. Commenting on Facebook, James Sacco said, “Sixth Street between University and Dwight feels like I’m driving through a former war zone.” Also on Facebook, Marirose Piciucco wrote, “That’d be my vote too! When I had chronic back pain, I would have to avoid that part of 6th because the bumping around over the uneven pavement would make me wince in pain.”

Although not everyone specified which part of Sixth Street they were referring to, you only have to drive on the teeth-grinding, bone-jangling stretch between Allston and Dwight to know that is likely what people had in mind. Our video, shot from a rattling Prius this week, gives a taste of that experience.

#2 worst street in Berkeley: University Avenue

University Avenue eastbound lanes looking east toward Frontage Road. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Similarly, say “University and bumpy ride” and the section leading from Frontage Road to the Marina leaps to mind.  “University @ the marina is absolutely the worst,” noted Henry M Viets on Facebook.

The particularly bad paving there is the stuff of lore. A story, published by Berkeleyside on April 1, 2017, even reported that lower University was a new California Historic Landmark, recognized for its historic importance as ‘The Bumpiest Street in the World” to rival San Francisco’s “Crookedest Street in the World,” Lombard Street.

Top 10 worst streets in Berkeley

 StreetNumber of votes
1Sixth Street396
2University Avenue95
3Milvia Street75
4Derby Street59
5Panoramic Way34
6Scenic Avenue34
7Hopkins Street33
8Cedar Street27
9Curtis Street25
10Parker Street22

After the top two choices, Milvia and Derby streets generated 75 and 59 votes respectively. After that, the numbers dropped off, with Panoramic, Scenic and Hopkins drawing over 30 votes each, and Cedar, Curtis and Parker rounding out the Top 10 with vote tallies in the 20-plus range.

Many people who took the survey pointed out how challenging poor streets were for cyclists, let alone drivers. The consensus was that fixing them couldn’t happen soon enough.

There is some good news, though. Three of the 10 worst offenders, including the No. 1 worst street, will be repaved or resurfaced in 2019. Sixth Street from Allston Way to Dwight will get an overlay at a cost of $857,533. That should smooth the road surface out considerably. The city will also do a surface treatment on the stretch of Sixth Street from the northern city limits to Gilman Street at a cost of $90,440.

Panoramic Way, which was set to be paved in 2018 but was not, will be repaved and will get curb cuts, new gutters and more. City Council is scheduled to approve a contract in January to redo most of the streets on Panoramic Hill for $4.2 million.

And Berkeley will also put down an overlay on Derby Street, between San Pablo Avenue and Mabel Street, for $259,372.

University Avenue is also on the shortlist, to be repaired with Measure T1 dollars in 2020. It’s part of a $4.5 million set of street improvements at the Berkeley marina. Hopkins is on the T1 list, too.

Tuesday night, as part of the City Council approval of the next five-year paving plan, officials asked staff, in future, to provide a comprehensive map and list of all street improvements planned in Berkeley to make it easier to track the work. As it stands, the paving plan provides only a partial list of projects.