A driver hit a woman and her 7-year-old son Friday morning while they were using a crosswalk to cross Cedar Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in North Berkeley. Both are recovering with only minor injuries, according to community members and Berkeley police.
Berkeley police responded at 8:30 a.m. crash. Officer Byron White, a police spokesperson, said the woman and her son were crossing Cedar at California Street when the driver hit them. They were using the crosswalk on the east side of the intersection.
The driver was going east on Cedar Street and came to a stop at California Street before the crash happened, then resumed driving because they thought the intersection was clear, according to White. That’s when they struck the pedestrians.
Both mother and son were taken to a local hospital for cuts on their face and pain from the crash. White said the driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with police, and alcohol and drugs are not suspected in the crash.
Residents who live in the neighborhood say crashes in the area are common, especially at the major intersection of Cedar Street and Sacramento Avenue, two blocks to the west. Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani, who oversees the neighborhood, called for more action on pedestrian safety last year after multiple crashes at Sacramento Avenue, and a group of residents wrote a letter to the city’s transportation department this August requesting slower speed limits and more signs warning drivers about school zones.
The city found that the speed limit couldn’t be lowered under 25 mph on Sacramento, but traffic calming measures are currently planned for the area, including the installation of feedback signs that show drivers their speed and 15 mph school speed limit signs on the intersections of Rose and Ada Street to the north.
North Berkeley resident Bryan Branstetter was walking his child to the Rosa Parks Elementary School bus stop nearby when the crash happened. He didn’t observe it directly because he was facing in a different direction, but said he accompanies his kids in that area because the intersection is busy thoroughfare and can sometimes be dangerous.
It’s also packed with children riding their bikes to the middle school, he added.
“[Drivers] often rush by, and the street paint for the crosswalks and the stop signs has worn away in some places,” Branstetter said. “The road is a little wide there so it can be difficult to see pedestrians, even when there were pedestrians on two of the corners of the crosswalk.”
He said the intersection could be a lot safer if there was a street improvement like a curb extension, or “bulb-out,” that makes crosswalk pedestrians more apparent to drivers.
“Not everybody has kids, and doesn’t necessarily drive with kids in mind,” Branstetter said. “So I think the more safety we can build in to give pedestrians and bicyclists more safety, the better.”
Rachel Brem, a resident whose fifth-grade daughter walks to the bus stop by herself every morning, said her child saw the crash happen.
“For the sake of all the kids at risk at the intersection, we believe that the critical thing now is for the city to take measures to improve pedestrian and bike safety there and throughout Berkeley,” Brem said.
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