In recent weeks, Berkeleyside has been crunching the numbers for 11 months of injury-crash data from the Berkeley Police Department. Continuing an effort we began last year to shed more light on pedestrian and cyclist crashes, we’ve reviewed the stats to see what trends emerged.
We’ve also mapped the data, which BPD ultimately made available after numerous inquiries over many months. We’ve cleaned it up and are providing it now to the public for the first time.
From January through November 2019, there were three fatal collisions involving pedestrians or cyclists, compared to one the prior year. There were 230 people injured across 220 crashes in 2019, down slightly from the 252 people hurt across 248 crashes the prior year. As part of this project, Berkeleyside also analyzed vehicle-only crashes that resulted in injuries, but this report considers just those that involved cyclists or pedestrians.
For pedestrian injury crashes, failure to yield was the most common reason for the collision that was identified by BPD, while unsafe speed was the biggest factor in crashes involving cyclists. BPD found the driver at fault in 81% of the crashes involving pedestrians, while pedestrians were deemed at fault in 18%. In crashes involving cyclists, BPD found that fault was evenly split, with drivers and cyclists each responsible 47% of the time.
In crashes involving cyclists, BPD found that fault was evenly split, with drivers and cyclists each responsible 47% of the time
The map above shows injury crashes that involved pedestrians between January and November 2019. A map below shows the injury collisions that involved cyclists. The color of the icon indicates who was at fault, according to BPD: If the marker is yellow, the driver was at fault. A blue marker means the pedestrian or cyclist was deemed at fault.
Each marker also includes what BPD determined to have been the primary collision factor, or the main reason for the crash. Berkeleyside had to translate all of the vehicle code numbers into plain language, so we focused on the most common issues. (If an issue only cropped up once or twice, you may still see the vehicle code section listed for that incident.)
Each marker includes information about the collision type (e.g. hit-and-run injury crash, fatality or DUI injury), how many people were injured or killed, and where and when the incident took place. The markers also have the case number and a link to Berkeleyside coverage if we wrote about the crash.
A closer look at injury crashes involving pedestrians
Berkeley had 125 injury crashes involving pedestrians from January through November of 2019. They left 131 people injured and two dead.
The vast majority of the collisions (63%) resulted from a failure to yield, while jaywalking was the main factor in 10% of the incidents and unsafe speed in 8%. Drilling down a bit farther, when the driver was found to be at fault, failure to yield and unsafe speed were the biggest issues. When the pedestrian was found at fault, jaywalking and walk-sign violations were.
The bulk of these injury crashes (42%) took place between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., followed by 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with 29%.
January (18%) and February (14%) saw the bulk of the crashes, while October, April and May each had 10%. (December was not part of the analysis.)
Fourteen percent of the collisions were hit-and-runs causing injury.
Police Beat 6 — the Southside neighborhood near UC Berkeley — had 18 injury collisions involving pedestrians, followed by Beat 4, which is downtown Berkeley, with 14. Those areas also have high concentrations of pedestrian traffic. It appears from the map that those neighborhoods also have the most collisions where BPD found pedestrians to be at fault.
A closer look at injury crashes involving cyclists
Berkeley had 98 injury crashes involving cyclists from January through November 2019. They left 99 people injured and one dead.
Unsafe speed (27%) and unsafe lane changes (18%) were the main primary collision factors, followed by stop sign violations (8%).
When the driver was found to be at fault, unsafe lane changes (28%), failure to yield when turning left (15%), unsafe speed (15%) and failing to yield at a stop sign (11%) were the biggest issues. When the cyclist was deemed responsible, unsafe speed was the issue 41% of the time, followed by stop sign violations and unsafe lane changes (both 11%), and right-of-way violations (9%).
The bulk of these injury crashes took place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (40%) and from 3-9 p.m. (39%).
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February had 12% of the injury collisions involving cyclists, followed by October, November and January, which each had 11%. (Again, December was not part of the analysis.)
Eight percent of these collisions were hit-and-runs causing injury.
Police Beat 3 — which is bordered by Hopkins Street and University Avenue to the north and south, and Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Sacramento Street to the east and west (approximately) — had 12 injury collisions involving cyclists, followed by Beat 6 with 11.
Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department said it would be good for everyone on the road — motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike — to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings.
“You look at these accidents, what do they have in common?” he asked. “It’s poor decisionmaking.”
Reviewing the Berkeleyside data briefly, he said drivers must yield to pedestrians and pedestrians need to stop jaywalking.
“We want people to be safe,” he said. “So slow down and obey all laws.”
He said it can be a challenge for BPD to analyze data internally in a deep way because it is already required to collect significant amounts of data, both locally and by the state, in addition to doing police work.
“Law enforcement is trained to do law enforcement,” he said. “At what point do we start to stray from law enforcement to data collection?”
A number of readers have pointed out repeatedly that people walk and bike in Berkeley at much higher rates than in many other cities, meaning it’s actually safer to get around in Berkeley even if raw numbers for injury crashes may sometimes be higher than those elsewhere.
See both types of injury collisions together on the map below.
Want to dig deeper into traffic safety data? Check out these resources.
- The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (California Highway Patrol)
- A new interactive website called Street Story (UC Berkeley’s SafeTREC)
- Transportation Injury Mapping System (also SafeTREC)
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