Outdoor Spaces & Buildings
Berkeley values it's green space, with many city parks, parklets, and miles of walking trails. Thanks to Ed Roberts, who led the disability rights movement as a student at UC Berkeley in the 1960's, accessibility of outdoor spaces and public buildings was advanced with nearly universal curb cuts, accessible city-owned buildings, and a robust set of non-profit organizations dedicated to ensuring that the needs of all residents and visitors are considered in the built environment. Improvements that go beyond ADA compliance and additional programs for older adults with varied physical abilities will make the city even more livable for everyone.
Age Friendly Resources
City Parks & Recreation programs include adult classes such as painting, yoga, and Tai Chi.
New businesses, housing developments and redevelopments are required by the City to be ADA compliant.
A city ordinance has allowed several ‘parklets’ to be built, which provide outdoor seating and tables in commercial areas; at least six more are planned.
East Bay Regional Park District, the largest urban regional park district in the US with about 120,000 acres, has a variety of free and affordable outdoor activities and volunteer opportunities.
Sidewalks, curb cuts, street lighting, benches, and traffic calming devices are developed in most areas.
City Parks & Recreation organizes several aquatics classes specifically for older adults and people with disabilities.
The City's Customer Service Center has been renovated to be more accessible with lower counters, better lighting, and large screens.
Nonprofit & University
BORP provides opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors, including special programs for veterans.
The UC Botanical Garden is 34- acres with over 10,000 different plant species. With paved paths throughout the garden, it is an accessible place to enjoy nature and learn about conservation
With parks spread out across the city, there are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. However, the quality and availability of amenities such as bathrooms, benches, and lighting vary across parks. There is a bus from downtown directly to the Marina and the Botanical garden, but public transit access to some other parks is limited. It may be necessary to drive to some parks, especially for those traveling from destinations other than downtown.
Community Survey Results
One of the top reasons survey respondents rated Berkeley positively as a place to age was walkability.
said they walk
said they bike
...as a form of transportation for errands and appointments
Infrastructure and Policy: While there are many green spaces around the city, amenities to make spaces safer and accessible, like public bathrooms, lighting, and benches, are variable. In addition, while some areas of the city, such as downtown, have various public transportation options, accessing parks from other areas requires a car or multiple bus lines.
Equity and Inclusion: The city started implementing accessibility standards ahead of many other places, but improvements to sidewalks, bus stations, and other outdoor spaces have not continued with the same momentum. The city is aware of these problems and assessing where to invest in additional accessibility efforts.
Information: There are many wonderful parks throughout Berkeley, but information about these parks, their programs, and the accessibility of activities are not easy to find and the city website is not always up to date with information.
Ensure that green spaces are accessible by various transportation modes and to those with mobility challenges, including shuttle access, smooth pathways, and room for wheelchairs next to benches.
Add a link on the City of Berkeley website to outdoor recreation activities for older adults.
Re-open the Willard Pool to improve public access to recreational swimming in South- East Berkeley
Ensure that older adults have opportunities for input into the development of the Master Pedestrian Plan by reviewing meeting times and consulting the Commission on Aging.