On August 23, a student pedestrian was hit by a car and injured at Hearst and Le Roy Aves., along the northern border of the University of California campus. The accident was simultaneously tragic and unsurprising, as pedestrians and drivers alike struggle to negotiate this contested intersection. It’s time for the City of Berkeley to take action.
Every hour, upwards of 500-600 pedestrians tentatively step into the crosswalks, anxiously eyeing approaching vehicles. Often, the cars won’t stop – either because the steepness of the hill prevents them from seeing the crosswalk in advance, or because the heavy and constant pedestrian volume requires them to inch through the intersection to avoid impeding traffic.
The City and the University are aware of the perils of this intersection. The City’s Pedestrian Master Plan identifies Hearst and Le Roy Aves. as having one of the highest rate of collisions per pedestrian, and Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System data shows that 100 percent of these collisions resulted in an injury. Meanwhile, the UC Berkeley 2020 Long Range Development Plan projected a need for enhanced pedestrian safety controls at the intersection.
In response to pressure from students, local businesses, residents and community groups, on Dec. 7, 2010 Councilmember Kriss Worthington referred the issue to the City Manager for further review. Additionally, the University of California has committed to share the cost of enhancing safety at Hearst and Le Roy with the city.
These are important first steps, but to ensure safety at this intersection quickly, we need to urge our elected officials to continue to pay attention. Please contact your councilmember and tell him or her to make safety a priority. Tell the City to take action to make Hearst and LeRoy safe now.