All paths lead through Berkeley
By Ethan Bliss, Special to the Daily
Local trail map made by
volunteers is selling out
The mission of the Berkeley Path Wanderers
Association has been to create a usable
map of pedestrian pathways in Berkeley
and the surrounding communities for public
use and enjoyment.
Now that local bookstores have sold
out of their orders for the maps and
the group prepares to have more copies
made, it is becoming clear that these
little links of Berkeley’s past
are ready to be discovered by the public.
Since its printing two months ago,
the initial run of 2000 maps has sold
out. Some local bookstores tested buyer
response cautiously, buying only a small
number of copies, but they quickly ordered
more copies when their stock sold out.
Black Oak Books on Shattuck Avenue
has sold out of their supply of the maps,
with most of the customers noticing the
map as they shopped at the store.
“Now people are requesting it,
especially in the last week,” said
Rose Katz, a representative of the bookstore. “They've
got a winner.”
The map committee members of the BPWA
volunteered for more than a year on the
project, well-aware that their only reward
would be the satisfaction of helping
others find their way along the paths
with greater ease, efficiency and enjoyment.
It was not an easy task.
The map, a thorough representation
of the city and surrounding areas, effectively
shows 136 paths, in passable or impassable
form, in addition to several trails that
run through Tilden Regional Park. Numerous
public parks and creeks in the Berkeley
vicinity are also shown.
Paul Grunland recalls that there were
times when he might have wanted to “throw
in the towel” because of the long
list of things he and the others had
to do: check existing pathway maps with
city maps from the 1920s, verify the
passability of the paths and make the
myriad of decisions regarding the actual
production of the map - colors, information,
legends, display of streets and so on.
It was the benefit of a pathways map
as a public resource that kept he and
the other five map committee members
of the BPWA going.
Funding for the project came from a
few different sources, primarily through
member contributions and a grant from
the city to publish the map. Upcoming
editions of the map will be made possible
with “revenue from the sale of
the current map,” according to
Jacques Ensign, a member of the map committee.
Grunland leads walks along various
pathways each month, and gives an excellent
narrative given his broad knowledge of
the history of the area.
When describing the paths, he tells
of a city during the first decade of
the century, when Berkeley was uncluttered
with automobile traffic, and developers
and architects were more visionaries
than urban constructors.
“It was a different world,” Grunland
said. “The paths were really the
result of good planning - by developers
who wanted the city to be beautiful.
These were really altruistic kinds of
The functionality and beauty of the
paths that remain serve as reminders
of a period during the area’s unique
With regard to the association’s
ability to generate public awareness
for path reparation and appreciation,
District 6 Councilwoman Betty Olds remarked, “They
have accomplished something that the
city hasn't been able to do in fifty
Olds went on to say that the paths
provide an excellent escape route during
a disaster like earthquake or fire -
events during which a knowledge of the
easiest and quickest way to safety would
be of great importance.
Lisa Frieden, who joined the group
in 1999, was enthusiastic when asked
about the process of creating the map. “It
was incredible,” she said. “A
group of independent people coming together
to do a volunteer thing - here we are
a year and a half later, and we have
this really cool map.”
The proceeds of the map are going to
be used to improve existing paths as
well as to regain and reclaim the paths
for the public. Frieden said that the
citizens of Berkeley will now have a
reliable resource to lead them through
all the parts of the city with ease.
Grunland is pleased that with the map,
the efforts are becoming a “high-profile
thing.” He said that the association
has met one of its main goals.
“The mission is to protect the
paths through public knowledge and reverence.
. .it’s becoming an enormously
effective force,” he said.
As the city puts up pathway signage,
and local Boy Scout troops helping with
labor, paths that were once defunct are
now safe for pedestrians who require
handrails and secure steps.
The association’s map committee
is already working on revisions for the
next edition. At a meeting Saturday,
updates to be considered will include
the possibility of marking wheelchair
access as well as the lesser issues of
spelling and layout.
“Minor tweaking,” Grunland
said, proud that the first edition came
out so well.
Map committee member Ensign said that
the second edition will be ready in about
six weeks, just in time for the Solano
[note: the third edition is to be issued
soon. --ed. 7/21/05]
For those who enjoy walking for recreation,
transportation, or even for exercise,
getting their own copy of the pathways
map will be worth the wait.