Just yesterday I wrote that San Francisco, what most people consider a walker’s paradise, is one of the most dangerous pedestrian cities in California. Today I have even more upsetting news. Berkeley, where green transportation by bike and on foot is considered a way of life, is also one of the most dangerous cities in California for pedestrians and bicyclists, according to the Oakland Tribune. In fact, for its size, it is the most dangerous city in California, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.
Ironically, it may be the town’s “green” attitude itself that is part of the problem. So many of its inhabitants-students and citizens alike-make the ecologically sound choice to walk or bike rather than drive cars to school, work and the grocery store that the percentage of pedestrians and cyclists among the total population is probably higher than in most other cities its size.
According to department spokesperson, the Berkeley police department will use its grant money for speed detection equipment, a third mobile digital sign, printing for educational fliers and officer overtime during targeted enforcement operations.
The speed detection equipment is supposed to help officers write more speeding tickets and the mobile digital sign can tell drivers how fast they are going, both of which should lead to reduced speeds in dangerous intersections.
Some of those dangerous intersections, for all kinds of accidents-car versus pedestrian, car versus bike, and car versus car-are Shattuck and University avenues, San Pablo and Ashby avenues, University Avenue and Sixth Street, Ashby and Shattuck avenues, Ashby and Telegraph avenues, Ashby Avenue and Seventh Street and Ashby Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
But high speeds at these intersections are not the only problem: drivers who make unsafe turns into bicyclists are responsible for 58 percent of the car versus bike accidents. Drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks are responsible for 56 percent of the car versus pedestrian accidents in Berkeley.
As a San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer and avid bicyclist myself, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, because things are obviously not getting much better: Each day I have to deal with the tragic consequences of drivers who are inattentive, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or simply going too fast. As pedestrians and bicyclists, we have to take reasonable care, but until motorists recognize both our presence on the road, and our equal right to that presence, beautiful cities like Berkeley will continue to be unsafe places to walk and ride. Motorists! Wake up! Take a few minutes to look around when you are making turns, slow down, don’t drive under the influence, and give bikers and walkers the extra space they need and deserve!