For First Time Visitors

Welcome to Walking Berkeley! Please see the About page for background about this project. I completed my goal of walking every street and path in Berkeley at the end of 2007. Although this blog ended with the completion of the project, the archives will stay up and available for browsing. Enjoy!

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Guest Post at Local Ecologist

Georgia of Local Ecology asked me to submit a post for her Tree Walks feature on Local Ecologist. Read the post about my experiences with fruit trees, and while you’re there browse the rest of her blog for lots of interesting observations on neighborhoods, landscape design, urban forestry, and much more. I particularly like Georgia’s reading lists; thanks to her suggestions I have learned about books like the wonderful There, There: East San Francisco Bay at Your Feet, by Margot Patterson Doss. Berkeley Public Library has copies of the book, and you can check out some of Doss’ columns posted on Local Ecologist.

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Update: Mill Valley Paths & Stairs, Mission Street, and trees

Today I led one of three walks for the Berkeley Path Wanderers summer event, which was a lot of fun. One great thing about the Path Wanderers events is all of the interesting and friendly folks who come to the walks. Today I spoke with a woman from Mill Valley about their path system, which is much more extensive than I thought. I’m excited to go check it out sometime soon. The Mill Valley Paths, Lanes & Steps map is available at city hall, the library, and the community center.

I’ve still been doing lots of walking, and have a list of various walks in the Bay Area that I’d like to do. Last weekend, Joe & I did one of them — walking the entire length of Mission Street from the Embarcadero in San Francisco to where it ends and El Camino Real begins in Colma. It is about 10 miles total. It was really a great walk going through a variety of neighborhoods, and interesting to see the changes in the street throughout San Francisco. Sometime soon I hope to walk all of Geary Street in one day across town, as I expect this street will provide just as many interesting sights.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this blog is only updated very periodically now that I have walked every Berkeley street & path, but coming up in the next month or so I’ll be doing a guest post for Local Ecology on observations about trees during my walking project. I’ll post here when that is done and up on Georgia’s website.

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Hidden Gems of Berkeley Walk and Bike Ride This Sat., May 10!

The Hidden Gems of Berkeley Walk and Bike ride is this Saturday, May 10. Click on the image above for details. If you cannot view the image for some reason, following is a description of the event. Hope to see you there!

Hidden Gems of Berkeley. Two Interpretive Tours – by Bike and by foot – of West Berkeley’s Vernacular Treasures and Grassroots Greening Efforts

Saturday May 10, 2008 – 10 am to 2:00 pm (bike); 10 am to 12:30 (walk)

Join us for the 6th annual tour of Berkeley’s eclectic fabric of gardens, paths, strange and familiar cultural and natural features…This year we’ll explore the many eclectic hidden gems of West Berkeley and the Westbrae. Join John Steere, Georgia Silvera, Susan Schwartz, John Coveney and guest historians/guides in this 4 mile ride through curiously historic and creative features of the flatlands. Bring a lunch, water, and your curiosity!

The bike tour begins at a hidden gem – San Pablo Park at its southwest corner (by Russell and Mabel) and will end at Codornices Creek’s restoration (day-lighting) at 9th Street. The walk tour begins at the Ohlone Greenway’s bridge over Codornices Creek just north of Gilman and opposite 1200 Masonic. Both events will meet for lunch in Strawberry Creek Park.

For more information, see attached; or call 510 848 9358 (walk), or 849-1969 (ride). Enroute you can purchase the Hidden Gems Map ($5) which depicts scores of these “gems,” along with bike routes, community gardens, creeks, parks and the historic transit system.

This tour is sponsored by Berkeley Partners for Parks (www.BPFP.org)

And is co-sponsored by the Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition (www.BFBC.org),

as a part of Berkeley Bike Month, by Livable Berkeley: (www.LivableBerkeley.org,

and by Whole Foods Market

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More Walkers

My sister, Erin, sent an exciting story about two women from Boulder, CO, who walked the city’s more than one thousand streets. Erin was living in Boulder during the time that I was walking all of the streets of Berkeley, and we had a couple of conversations about how it would have been fun if we did a joint project where she walked the streets of Boulder and we compared and contrasted what we saw and learned in both towns. Sometimes people who have not spent much time in either town like to say that Boulder and Berkeley are very similar, but Erin and I agree that there are quite a few differences between the two places. In any case, two women (ages 63 and 67) walked all of Boulder’s 295 miles of streets over the past year. My favorite part of the article was their pact that they would not cut corners and that they would walk to the end of cul-de-sacs.

As I have mentioned here before, I got rid of my car several years ago. Joe has a car, though it is mostly used for out-of-town journeys — he is also on foot and bike often. During the time we have lived in Berkeley and I have written this blog, we have slowly encountered others who live car-free or car-“lite” lifestyles. Nothing, however, tops the story of Angus Powelson. Joe has been taking the car to Oceanworks here in Berkeley for regular service checkups. He originally went to Oceanworks on recommendations from friends and glowing consumer reviews, but we were pleasantly surprised that Oceanworks also promotes fuel-efficient vehicles and driving less, is solar-powered and is a green business, and even sells folding bikes.

In conversation with Oceanworks owner Angus on his last visit, Joe learned that he has been car-free for a number of years! This may be one of the most unique car-free situations ever. In subsequent emails with Angus, I learned that he has a folding bike, fixed-gear bike, road bike, tandem, skateboards, push scooter, running shoes … but no car. I like to hope that Angus has influenced a few customers to drive a little less and consider other options for getting around. I don’t want to sound like I am advertising here, but I certainly recommend checking out Oceanworks if you live in Berkeley even if you don’t own a car. As I mentioned, they have folding bicycles for sale, and may even start carrying Dutch cargo bikes!

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Update

If you are coming to this blog for the first time – welcome! At the end of 2007 I completed my goal of walking every street and path in Berkeley. Although I am still doing lots of walking around Berkeley and other places, I will not be doing much blogging here now that the project has been completed. I have been working on other walking and car-free related projects, but not anything yet that lends itself to blogging. If I do start a new blog or other web-related documentation, I will definitely post it here and will contact regular readers. In the meantime, please feel free to search and browse the archives of this blog.

Berkeley readers, be sure to check out Walking the Fault, Andy Datlen’s blog about “walks on, around, and across the Hayward Earthquake Fault where it runs along the base of the hills through Berkeley.” You may remember that I mentioned Andy previously; he has also walked all of the paths and streets in Berkeley! Another interesting walking blog is Beating the Bounds (thanks to reader Bernard for pointing me to this site), about a UC Davis grad student’s attempt to walk along the Capitol Corridor rail line. As you will see from the blog, the project was stopped by Union Pacific, but she may be walking the roads paralling the tracks. And reader Sabrina pointed out this interesting upcoming dérive, or wandering, in the East Bay starting on March 21 and continuing through the night (for related information, see my post on psychogeography and Theory of the Dérive on Berkeley writer and theorist Ken Knabb’s website.

Finally, the Hidden Gems of Berkeley ride will be happening this year on Saturday, May 10. This year this will be a bike ride and a walk! The ride will visit hidden gems in Westbrae and West Berkeley, and the walk will focus on locations in Westbrae. More details should be available next month here and here.

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Odds & Ends

  • The Berkeley Path Wanderers included an article about my walk in their latest newsletter [large PDF file].
  • I recently wrote an article for the Berkeley Daily Planet about some of the interesting places I discovered during my walk of Berkeley.
  • Another every-street walker, in Scotland! Follow Rob’s adventures at Walking Dunfermline.
  • And another walker: Wulf wants to walk every street in Hither Green in 2008, a district in the London borough of Lewisham. Follow it at Walking Hither Green.
  • And somehow I missed Walking the Streets of Forest Hill. Rob walked every public path in Forest Hill (which is also district in London borough of Lewisham), finishing in 2007. I’m excited to go back and read about the walk.

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Finishing the Walk

Over the weekend I finished the short remaining section of my walk of every street and path in Berkeley — the Bay trail path from the Berkeley bicycle bridge to the Emeryville border — and then came home and marked the final section on my map. Although this was walking project was definitely more about the enjoyment being in the journey itself rather than the end result, it was nice to feel the sense of accomplishment that came with drawing that last line to fill in the map!


So what’s next? Of course this will not be the end of walking in Berkeley; I walk every day to get around, and have many spots on my list to return to and explore in greater detail. I’m also interested in doing more walking in the cities and towns that surround Berkeley — Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont, and Emeryville — to see what makes these areas unique and how they compare and contrast with Berkeley. In the past, I have explored San Francisco’s stairway system, but I would like to walk more of the paths and stairways there and in other towns where they occur (such as the Oakland hills). I also have in mind some long, all-day walks, such as taking BART to Orinda and hiking and walking back over the hills to Berkeley, and a walk of all of Berkeley’s paths in one day. Luckily there is no shortage of places to walk here.

One of the unexpected benefits of this walking project has been the number of ideas that have arisen for other projects. There must be something about walking and making observations with an open mind that sparks the creative process, but whatever it is I found that I have filled pages of a notebook with ideas. Some of these are walking related, and some have to do with other ways to explore neighborhoods and communities, and others have to do with something else altogether. It will take some time to process this walking project before I decide what to do next, but I am excited about the possibilities and especially hope to focus on other ways that I can encourage people to get outside and explore on foot or by bicycle.

I will be taking a break over the holidays from writing, but keep a look out early next year for more posts. The Berkeley Path Wanderers interviewed me about my walk for the winter newsletter, so I will post that when it’s up on their website, and have some topics that I did not get around to writing about before finishing the walk. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message if there is anything in particular you were hoping I would write about Berkeley or about walking. And many thanks to everyone who has expressed words of encouragement or posted thoughtful comments or interesting stories in response to blog posts. And happy walking to everyone!

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Walk Highlights, Part 4

On Sunday, I officially finished walking every street and path in Berkeley! I’ll have a post on this tomorrow or Friday, but first a few more walk highlights that were not covered by in any of the other categories in previous posts:

Thousand Oaks rocks: On my first walk or two in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood, I observed that it was a very pleasant neighborhood for walking, but did not expect to find anything out of the ordinary. When I finally got to Vicente Avenue, all of this changed. I knew about the Rock parks in Berkeley, but did not realize that there were other large rocks throughout the neighborhood. Giant boulders appear in front yards, and in some cases rocks have been incorporated into the houses’ architecture. It’s difficult to take everything in at once, so I imagine taking many more walks in this area in the future.

Upper Claremont: The neighborhood above Tunnel Road is a fascinating place to explore because of its very different architecture from most of the other Berkeley neighborhoods. This area has many new homes that have been built since the East Bay Hills fire in 1991, quite a few of which have very modern designs. I had some pretty strong reactions to some of the houses up here; I am a huge fan of mid-century modern architecture and modest, well-designed new modern architecture, but I found myself saying “what were they thinking?” while looking at some of the homes up here. But this is precisely why I enjoyed walking here: there is a lot to take in and to think about while walking through here, not just about the individual houses, but also about the fire itself, how homes and landscaping are constructed in fire-prone areas, how community forms or doesn’t form after a disaster, and what drives people to build (and re-build) homes in areas that are prone to natural disasters. The best way to access this neighborhood and avoid much of the Tunnel Road traffic is to take the Short Cut path off Tunnel Road to the left, soon after Ashby turns into Tunnel. Then walk along Alvarado Road and Vicente Road (not to be confused with Vicente in Thousand Oaks, mentioned above), and on the Sunset Trail and Willow Walk paths.

Panoramic Hill: In my previous Walk Highlights post, I mentioned the paths near the Berkeley campus. A walk on these paths (such as Orchard Lane and Mosswood Lane) takes you into a small neighborhood that is easy to miss otherwise. Although you can look down and see the Cal Memorial Stadium and sports facilities from here, it seems like you are a world away from the hubbub of the campus. In addition to the amazing views implied by the name of the neighborhood, this area is a nice place for walking because it offers access to the Claremont Canyon and Strawberry Canyon fire trails. Although the neighborhood is small, it is a nice spot to revisit, taking different routes up and down the paths and around the loops of Panoramic and Dwight Way for interesting views (just keep an eye on the road for traffic).

Ohlone Greenway & Santa Fe Right-of-Way: In addition to the path system that I mentioned in my previous post, two paths on railroad right-of-ways run through Berkeley. The Ohlone Greenway comes through Berkeley from the north, following the BART tracks past the North Berkeley station, through Ohlone Park and ending just before BART turns onto Shattuck and to the downtown station. As I’ve mentioned in past blog entries, there is much to see along the Greenway — murals, gardens, sculpture, etc. — and I take it often to get from place to place. Just a caveat on this area (similar to my previous note about San Pablo Ave.) — although I always recommend being cautious walking at night in general, I have found that the Greenway north of the North Berkeley BART station and on into the neighboring towns is a place I do not feel safe after dark due to lots of shrubbery and dark areas along the trail which can be a magnet for criminal activity. The Santa Fe Right-of-Way path is only partially complete at this time, but a portion can be walked from its intersection with the Ohlone Greenway just south of Cedar-Rose Park all the way to University Avenue. Also walkable is the section through Strawberry Creek Park.

West Berkeley industrial zone: The area near the Bay in Berkeley, as it is in many other towns circling the Bay area, has a history of industrial activity. Many of the old buildings in West Berkeley are still somewhat intact, with some occupied with new industry and others empty. North of University Ave., many of these buildings are in the blocks on either side of the railroad tracks. The west side of the tracks is an area that I might have missed had I not been doing this project. If you are exploring this area, keep in mind that plenty of train traffic rolls through here, and make sure to cross the tracks only at official crossings. South of University, the streets that start at 7th and dead end at the Aquatic Park are particularly interesting to explore, as are Murray and Folger streets west of San Pablo.

I-80 bicycle/pedestrian bridge: If you’ve ever had to navigate dangerous freeway entrances on foot or bicycle or cross a freeway on one of those narrow overcrossings that are close to the traffic exhaust and are often unpleasant for walking, you probably understand why I appreciate the I-80 bridge so much. It is nicely designed, high above traffic, and has plenty of room for pedestrians, wheelchairs, and bicycles. Once on the other side, you can pop onto the Bay Trail or visit some of the many attractions at the Berkeley Marina. A good alternative to a trail hike after lots of rain is to take the bridge over the freeway and walk south on the Bay Trail’s paved path to the Emeryville border, then return and either continue out to the Marina or back over and around the Aquatic Park. Plenty of opportunities to see birds and other wildlife without the mud.

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Walk Highlights, Part 3

In this post, I list some favorite general places to walk in Berkeley. All of these are items that I would mention if someone asked me to describe Berkeley; they all stand out in my mind after this walk as defining aspects of this city. Again, in no particular order:

Community and school gardens: Before I started this walk, I knew about the famous Edible Schoolyard, but I did not realize that just about every school in Berkeley also had a vegetable garden. Many of these gardens are either viewable from outside the school gates or otherwise accessible, so I enjoy stopping to take a look at what is growing in different seasons at the the various school gardens. There are also a few community gardens in Berkeley, which can also be seen even when the gardens are closed.

Berkeley’s farmers markets: Berkeley has markets year-round three days a week (Tuesday and Thursday late afternoon & early evening, and Saturdays). Usually I walk to the markets once or twice a week as a destination, but I always like to walk through if I am near one of them whether or not I have anything to buy. As with the gardens, it’s a great opportunity to see foods in season, but it also provides a fun people-watching opportunity. My favorite of the three markets for walking (and for the selection) is the Tuesday one, both because this market seems to have the broadest mix of different types of people shopping there and because its set-up with a narrow and crowded walkway makes it a vibrant place to walk.

Bike boulevards and bike routes: I talked a bit about this in a past post; Berkeley has a large bicycle network of bike lanes and bike boulevards (which have traffic barriers and encourage cyclists to take the full traffic lane). These streets are nice for walking for the most part, especially because you’re more likely to hear the pleasant sounds of bicycles than cars. People carrying on conversations, children laughing in their trailers and bicycle seats, and all sorts of interesting carrying devices whiz by while you are walking. Milvia and Russell are my favorites of the bike network, but all are streets that I go back to often to walk.

Paths: I have talked a lot about the Berkeley path system throughout the course of writing this blog, so it should be no surprise that this has been one of my favorite parts of walking Berkeley. I originally was thinking I would do a post with my favorite paths, but I really don’t know that I would be able to pick favorites. Instead, I will suggest some ways to explore the paths. The southern paths are an easy walk away from Rockridge BART; just veer to the right onto Claremont Avenue (while you are still in Oakland) and enter the Claremont/Uplands neighborhood to the right once you cross the Berkeley border. If you are visiting the Berkeley campus and Telegraph Avenue, a small network of paths is located just a few blocks east of Telegraph (walk along the south border of campus on Bancroft). On Solano Avenue in Berkeley, walk east until you see Indian Rock Path. Follow this path to begin exploring the rock parks mentioned in the Walk Highlights post on parks. There are many, many paths in the Berkeley hills, and it took several trips to complete this portion of my walk. One suggestion for starting to explore these paths is to take either the 65 or 67 bus, which can be picked up at downtown Berkeley BART, and get off at a random stop in the hills; then start making your way down along the paths. For all of these walks, of course, the Berkeley Path Wanderers map should be your reference.

Creeks: The creek system in Berkeley is not quite as a big of a political issues as historic architecture and new development, but it is a contentious topic nonetheless; some people would like to see all of the creeks flowing above ground everywhere, and others are concerned about its affect on nearby homes and other obstacles that have been built up over the years. As a walker, I appreciate the creek system as it is now. Following the path of the creeks to see where they pop up above ground and then back under again in a random pattern is lots of fun, and definitely something I would recommend especially when walking with children. For a long (but downhill) walk, you can follow Codornices Creek from the hills down through Codornices Park and Live Oak Park (mentioned in the Walk Highlights post on parks), and then along the Berkeley-Albany border to the Bay. A less ambitious but equally enjoyable place to enjoy a creek walk is through the UC Berkeley campus where Strawberry Creek flows above ground.

Stayed tuned next week for my final Walk Highlights post, with specific highlights not covered by any of the previous posts.

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