Berkeley city leaders aim to make streets safer for pedestrians

Bay Area

BERKELEY (KRON) — Berkeley city leaders are working to make streets safer for pedestrians.

This comes after reports that 14-percent of their streets account for 93-percent of pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries.

To fix the issue, the city is proposing changes to 10 of its highest pedestrian injury streets.

Those streets range from San Pablo Avenue and University to Dwight and Sacramento Street going from Dwight to the southern border.

Over a nine year period ending in 2017, there have been 10 fatal collisions involving pedestrians in the City of Berkeley.

Another 457 pedestrians have been severely injured.

Liza Lutzker is with Walk Bike Berkeley

“I think there are a lot of places where the city is not safe for young kids and older adults with mobility issues and other folks with disabilities to walk around,” she said.

That’s why she’s pleased with a series of proposals to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero by 2028

“We’ve had a lot of people coming out, saying they don’t feel safe , parents pushing strollers across the street not able to make, stepping out into an intersection with cars not stopping for them,” Lutzker said.

The city transportation planner say it turns out most of the problems are happening on a handful of streets like University, Shattuck and Martin Luther King.

“We’ve identified what we’re calling our high-injury streets,” said Beth Thomas, Berkeley Transportation Planner. “So those are the streets responsible for the vast majority of severe injuries and traffic crashes.”

So they’ve come up with a set of proposals for traffic improvements there

That could mean making corner curbs bigger, taking away parking spots near corners, adding more left turn arrows and additional manually operated flashing beacons like one near the berkeley bowl.  

Pedestrian advocates say it could go a long way.

“We know that people react faster when they’re going slower,” Lutzker said. “We know that pedestrians are much more likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries with a small increase in speed.”

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