Study Finds Berkeley Among Safest Cities for Pedestrians

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Berkeley is the second safest city for pedestrians in the state of California, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project, a non-profit pedestrian advocacy group, authored the study based on statistics of pedestrian casualties in 2001 compared to the Census 2000 statistics on regular pedestrians. California cities with populations over 100,000 were surveyed.

Strictly limited to automobile-pedestrian collisions, Berkeley had one fatality and 106 injuries in 2001. The same year, there were 721 pedestrian fatalities, and 14,545 injuries statewide.

But Berkeley has also had almost twice as many casualties as Vallejo, which the report ranked as the most dangerous city for walkers.

James Corless, director of the pedestrian advocacy group, which authored the report, said the ranking does not necessarily put Berkeley in the clear.

"The fact that Berkeley is ranked second safest does not mean everything is OK," he said. "It just means that everyone else in the state is doing poorly. It's as if Berkeley got a B grade, and everyone else got an F."

Corless said he was surprised that in general, pedestrian casualty rates in larger cities were significantly lower than that of smaller cities.

"The thing that Berkeley has going for it is that it is a more walkable city than a lot of the new cities with wide eight-lane arterials," he said. "The new California city is really bad news for pedestrians."

Although the study favors Berkeley, some city officials said that the methods used to conduct the survey were flawed, rendering the study misleading.

Berkeley transportation Commissioner Fran Hasselsteiner said because the results are based on the number of estimated regular pedestrians in Berkeley rather than the number of residents, the results are not accurate.

If the number of accidents per Berkeley resident were taken into consideration, the number would be one of the highest in the state, Hasselsteiner said.

The city of Berkeley has recently taken steps to improve pedestrian safety. Chirping crosswalk indicators have been implemented in Downtown, and there are plans to put more in place around the city.


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