BARTable bike ride: Electric biking in Berkeley
Editor's note: As of April 14, 2019, Ford GoBike has suspended its electric-assist bike service due to braking issues. "Classic" bikes without the electric-assist are not affected by the issues and are still available for use. We'll update this story when the electric-assist bikes are back in service.
Have you had a bicyclist on a black Ford GoBike zip past you and wondered how its rider moved so effortlessly? We're here to let you in on the secret: electric motor pedal assist. Designed to help you tackle hills without breaking a sweat, the new Ford GoBike Plus has been rolling out at bike share stations across the Bay Area. Join us for a cruise from South Berkeley up to the Gourmet Ghetto, as we traverse bicycle boulevards while highlighting some must-stop destinations along the way.
Don’t have a bike? No problem. Ford GoBike has thousands of bikes stationed across San Francisco and the East Bay available for rental. Grab your helmet, smartphone and Clipper card and come with us.
Ride time: 30 minutes to 1 hour (not including stops)*
Distance: Approximately 3 miles
Terrain: Mostly flat pavement and bicycle boulevards
*Depending on your membership type, this ride could incur overage fees. Bike Share for All members get unlimited 60-minute rides. Annual Members get unlimited 45-minute rides. Short-term riders get unlimited 30-minute rides.
Begin your adventure by taking BART to South Berkeley's Ashby Station. Once you pass through the faregates, turn right to exit the station. Once outside, the GoBike dock is on your left.
Tip: Make sure that the station has enough bikes for you and your crew before you go by checking the GoBike app. And don’t forget to bring a helmet; your GoBike doesn’t come with one.
GoBike has a helpful tool that tells you how many bikes are located at each station in real-time. Look for the lightning bolt icon to find Plus (electric-assist) bikes.
Locate a black GoBike Plus, adjust the seat to the right height and take note of the dock number.
Use the touchscreen at the kiosk to select your chosen bike and pay for your ride.
Before pedaling away, make sure to push the "POWER ON" button or you won't reap the benefits of the electric motor.
Set off to the northeastern corner of the station parking lot and use the ramp to get up to the intersection of Ashby Avenue and Adeline Street. Use the crosswalk to reach the east side of Adeline Street, then ride north for one block until you reach Russell Street. Turn left on Russell and a quick right turn brings you onto Milvia Street, a bicycle boulevard.
Bicycle boulevards are designed to be near popular destinations and prioritize bike traffic over car traffic. Generally, these streets have very little car traffic and are much safer for bicyclists compared to major thoroughfares, such as Shattuck Avenue.
Look for the large painted "sharrows" to ensure you are on the correct route.
Continue on Milvia for about a mile until you reach the cross street, Allston Way. At the northwest corner of the intersection is a docking station (1998 Allston Way) that's central to everything Downtown Berkeley has to offer. For a list of places to check out, see our Top stops near new Downtown Berkeley plaza feature.
After you've thoroughly explored Downtown Berkeley and your hunger begins to kick in, check your bike out again and get back on Milvia. Continue north on Milvia about one mile until you reach Vine Street. At Vine, make a right and in two blocks before you reach Shattuck Avenue, you will see another docking station (2085-2099 Vine St.) on your left. This is the perfect place to dock your bike for our next destination, the Gourmet Ghetto.
For this ride, we couldn't resist our desire for pizza, so we had to stop at Berkeley institution, Cheese Board Pizza (1512 Shattuck Ave). Some of our other favorite spots in the neighborhood can be found in our Explore Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto feature.
There's almost always a line outside of Cheese Board, but don't worry, it moves quickly.
Cheese Board pizza comes in two forms, vegetarian or vegan. If ordering the vegetarian version, get in line upon arrival. If ordering the vegan version, approach the counter and place your order first, then get in line. The vegan pizza takes longer to prepare, and Cheese Board recommends ordering first to cut down on wait time.
Pizza tastes even better after a bike ride.
Once you're full of pizza and ready to get back on the bike, it's an easy downhill trip to the North Berkeley Station. Grab your bike from the Vine St dock and head two blocks down to Milvia. Make a left on Milvia and ride three blocks to Virginia Street, another bicycle boulevard.
Purple "Bicycle Boulevard" signs mark both Milvia and Virginia Streets.
Turn right on Virginia and coast several blocks until you reach the BART station, just past Sacramento St. Drop off the bikes at the dock on the south side of the station and return satisfied from whence you came.
What to bring
Comfortable riding shoes, helmet, water, sun protection (hat, sunscreen), extra layers or rain gear (just in case). Each GoBike comes with a small front basket for storing essentials. A smartphone is handy for maps and looking up information, or taking photos. And, of course, your BART ticket or Clipper card.