Removal of Trees From Traffic Circles

Blane Beckwith
Wednesday August 01, 2018 - 11:27:00 PM

I have been following this debate and one thing that bothers me is the lack of mention of people with disabilities who use wheelchairs. We are adversely affected by traffic circles and the overgrowth of vegetation that is allowed in them. We are in danger of being hit by cars when crossing these intersections with overgrown traffic circles.

As a wheelchair user, traffic circles scare the hell out of me. The primary reason for this fright is because the traffic circle renders me practically invisible, especially since many of them are overgrown with vegetation that is far too high.  

As I recall, there is a City of Berkeley ordinance that governs the height of which vegetation is allowed to grow. When the traffic circle ordinance was first being considered, I attended the Commission on Disability (COD) meetings where this issue was discussed and I personally gave my input. 

I expressed the concern that if people were allowed to plant whatever vegetation they wanted, people in wheelchairs would be put in danger because it is very hard for us to be seen if vegetation is too high. If people would have stayed within the height limits of the city ordinance, there would be no problem with traffic circles. 

Since that time, many people who are responsible for planting have not taken people in wheelchairs into consideration when planting. We have been overlooked, and in some of these traffic circles, people have gone so far as to plant trees and other large plantings, making it next to impossible to see a person in a wheelchair who has a lower profile than someone walking. 

I have nearly been hit on several occasions by people who didn't see me because I was hidden behind overgrown vegetation that was not trimmed to the proper height. This problem needs to be solved in some other way than to overlook the numerous people in wheelchairs in the City of Berkeley. 

Either people need to start planting these traffic circles the needs of people with disabilities into consideration, or the City of Berkeley needs to force them to consider our right to safe access on the streets of our city.