Frank Cruz has turned a horrific personal tragedy — the death on a crosswalk of his five-year-old son Zachary — into a crusade to make Berkeley’s streets safer for pedestrians.

And tomorrow, at the end of a month which was named Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month by the city for the second year running, the Zachary Cruz Foundation will hold a benefit concert for pedestrian safety.

Zachary, who would have turned eight on March 12, was run over and killed while walking with a group of school children and teachers at the intersection at Derby and Warring on February 27th, 2009.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, Berkeley is the most dangerous city its size in California, in terms of pedestrian-auto injury collisions. In 2009, the year Zachary lost his life, there were two other fatal collisions in Berkeley and 106 pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents in the city. All three of the fatal collisions  involved pedestrians in crosswalks.

The Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation, founded by Zachary’s parents, Frank and Jodie Cruz, has achieved a significant amount in a short time. It has been working closely with the Berkeley Police Department to raise awareness and enforce pedestrian safety. It has established a Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship at UC Berkeley and a scholarship for emergency medical response tuition.

“Lives continue to be lost every day in preventable pedestrian-auto collisions,” said Frank Cruz. “If we don’t fight distracted driving, and other dangerous driving practices, pedestrian-auto collisions will continue to claim the lives of innocent people like Zachary.”

The 2011 Zachary Cruz Benefit Concert for Pedestrian Safety will take place at the New Parish at 579 18th Street in downtown Oakland on Thursday March 31, and will feature local indie rock bands The Soft White Sixties, Poor Bailey, and Manatee. The event is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Police Department and the Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts nonprofit. For more information on the event, and the Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation, please visit the foundation’s website.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...