FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BERKELEY, CA – Jackie Erbe, a local mobility justice activist, was struck by a motorist on March 16 while biking with her child at Ninth Street and Channing Street and was hospitalized with serious injuries. In response to this near-tragedy and countless others like it, City Councilmember Terry Taplin (District 2) and Mayor Arreguín have submitted a budget referral to calm traffic on Ninth St. Ninth Street is part of Berkeley’s Bicycle Boulevard network, where bicycle and pedestrian travel are to be prioritized over automobile transport with traffic calming and safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure. West Berkeley is designated an Equity Priority Area in the City’s Vision Zero Plan. Traffic calming in these areas is essential for encouraging a modal shift away from automobile dependence.
To improve pedestrian and bicycle safety on the Ninth Street Bicycle Boulevard, Councilmember Taplin and Mayor Arreguín are proposing a combination of traffic diverters, permanent traffic circles, speed tables, STOP signs, green bike waiting spaces, and a community engagement process to advance protected bike lanes along Ninth.
“As a cyclist and a life-long resident of West Berkeley, my awareness of the dangers cyclists and pedestrians face on Berkeley’s streets predates my time on the City Council,” said Councilmember Terry Taplin (District 2). “Berkeley residents should not have to fear for their lives and the lives of their children every time they choose to bike or walk instead of drive to their destination. My proposed improvements would be a significant safety advancement along this West Berkeley corridor, but are ultimately just one important initial step towards true mobility justice in Berkeley.”
“Berkeley has some of the highest rates of people who commute via foot and bike, and we need to make sure that our infrastructure reflects the needs of our residents’ diverse transit options,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguín. “Investing in safety and traffic improvements along Ninth Street is critical in order to fulfill the goals of Vision Zero while improving mobility in historically underserved neighborhoods.”
“Black and Brown residents are far more likely to be severely injured or killed on Berkeley’s streets, primarily due to the high level of cut-thru traffic in Berkeley’s flatlands between Interstate-80 and Highway 24, two regional routes enjoyed by more affluent commuters,” said Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director for Bike East Bay. “Local traffic safety and speed management priorities are an issue of mobility justice and are responsive to what residents in West Berkeley have been requesting for years.”
“Our bicycle boulevards provide a great way to introduce our BUSD students to walking and biking to school,” said Berkeley School Board Director Ana Vasudeo. “Given 9th Street’s proximity to Rosa Parks Elementary School, any improvements that lead to a safer commute would be beneficial for helping students and their caregivers get to school safely and sustainably.”