Police conduct pedestrian stops for violations at Shattuck and Center in downtown Berkeley on Sept. 23, 2014. Photo: Eric Panzer

On Monday, Berkeley police were stopping and ticketing pedestrians at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street in downtown Berkeley for, among other violations, crossing against the lights or crossing the street after the alert light had stopped blinking.

The stops were part of what BPD’s Traffic Bureau calls an education enforcement project that is happening all this week in the downtown area. Officers will be enforcing other violations in relation to vehicle and bicycle safety, BPD said in a release.

“The ultimate goal of the projects is to foster greater overall traffic and pedestrian safety,” the department wrote.

The department said that, like many of its safety projects, this one was prompted by concerns among members of the community and traffic collision data regarding vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety violations.

According to BPD, the highest percentage of pedestrian-related injury collisions occurred in Berkeley’s downtown area in 2013. “Pedestrian related collisions accounted for 24 percent of all documented injury collisions reported to BPD in 2013,” BPD said in its statement, continuing: “Sixty percent of all pedestrian related collisions occurred in crosswalks. Injury collisions involving a pedestrian are more likely to occur in crosswalks known for high volume activity.”

On a Berkeleyside Facebook post published yesterday pointing to the police stops, several people said they were pleased to see that action was being taken to ensure pedestrians obeyed the law.

“I am thrilled to see this. I can’t count the number of times pedestrians have stepped into the crosswalk when my light is green and glared at me, daring me, not to stop,” wrote Janis Mitchell.

Karla Tech wrote: “I used to drive a delivery van in Berkeley I hated it! People walking cross against the lights, talk on phone and don’t even look at the light.”

And, commenting on pedestrian behavior in Berkeley, Valenta de Regil wrote: “Nowhere I’ve been in the Western world do pedestrians have such nerve. Now that I don’t live in Berkeley anymore, I really fear hitting a pedestrian when I visit Berkeley since I am no longer used to their hi-jinx.”

Others said cyclists and motorists were as much to blame for accidents as pedestrians, and suggested the police should focus on them as well as, or in lieu of, pedestrians.

Lia V. Wilson wrote: “When are they going to start ticketing bicyclists who blow through stop signs and then scream obscenities at the cars that screech to a stop?

While Brian Collins commented: “Waste of police resources. When did a speeding pedestrian ever injure anyone but itself? Crack down on motorists, who actually cause injury.”

Others recommended other areas of the city where pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers should be regulated, some suggested UC Berkeley and Berkeley High students were the most guilty constituents when it came to pedestrians violating traffic rules.

There have been several serious traffic accidents recently in Berkeley, including two which resulted in fatalities. On Sept. 12 a motorcyclist and pick-up truck collided at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and University Avenue and the 48-year old motorcyclist subsequently died. And local cyclist Kurt Wehner died Monday this week after being involved in a crash with a vehicle in North Berkeley on Sunday morning.

BPD has the following tips for making the city’s roadways safer:

Pedestrians:

  • Obey signs and signals
  • Cross or enter roadway where it is legal to do so, such as a crosswalk
  • Don’t be distracted by cellphones or other devices
  • Watch for turning vehicles
  • Don’t assume drivers/bicyclists see you

Drivers/Bicyclists:

  • Be vigilant when driving/riding; expect the unexpected
  • When approaching a crosswalk area slow down and be prepared to stop for a pedestrian
  • Do not pass a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian
  • Stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk
  • Don’t assume a pedestrian sees you

BPD‘s Traffic Bureau will be conducting future projects focusing on traffic and pedestrian safety. It announced this week’s enforcement project on Monday via the Nixle messaging platform. To receive alerts from BPD via Nixle, sign up for the program either online or via cellphone. Sign-up instructions appear on Nixle’s website. There is no cost to sign up. Participants can elect to receive alerts via phone or email, or simply view the information online. (The city of Berkeley account appears here.)

For more traffic safety information visit the BPD Traffic Bureau’s website.

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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...