Taplin Proposes Equitable Safe Streets and Climate Justice Resolution

February 9, 2021

BERKELEY, CA —City Councilmember Terry Taplin has introduced the Equitable Safe Streets and Climate Justice Resolution, which would establish several traffic engineering policy changes to improve street safety:

  • Adoption of the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide as the default engineering standard for city streets, while strongly restricting use of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD)—the federal highway engineering manual that imposes a significant bias toward higher vehicle speeds and unsafe street conditions—including prohibition of the dangerous “85th percentile” rule for minimum speed limits;
  • Requiring all paving and street improvement projects to incorporate Complete Streets design standards wherever feasible;
  • Transferring legal liability for street safety improvements from individual traffic engineers to the City of Berkeley.

“Traffic violence is a deadly crisis in our community. I hear every day from West Berkeley residents who do not feel safe walking or biking on our streets, which we all pay to maintain irrespective of motor vehicle access,” said Councilmember Terry Taplin (District 2). “We cannot accept a status quo for street design that makes the most dangerous, polluting, and costly form of travel feel safer than walking or biking for so many. Ending this vicious cycle will save lives, and that must be our top priority. To that end, I will also be introducing legislation to reduce speed limits under new municipal powers granted by Assembly Bill 43.”

“I’m thrilled to help bring Berkeley’s traffic engineering into the 21st century with the evidence-based best practices advanced in this proposal,” said Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) Board of Education member Ana Vasudeo. “As a professional transportation planner and a mother of two young boys who walk to and from school regularly, it’s extremely important to me that roads are designed intentionally to protect the smallest and most vulnerable road users in our community.”

“This is a common-sense way to improve safety and save money by restoring local control over the design of Berkeley streets,” said Alfred Twu, Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commissioner and candidate for AC Transit Board of Directors. “It will reduce crashes, avoid duplicated construction work, and create a city more appealing to residents and visitors alike.”

“Berkeley is one of the top cities in California for people who walk, bike, or take transit—but the city’s streets are still mostly designed for people who drive,” said Warren Logan, former Policy Director of Mobility and Interagency Relations for the Mayor’s Office of Oakland. “Taplin’s proposal would focus the City’s priorities on life-saving capital investments and make the city a more pleasant and inviting place to walk, use mobility devices, and ride bikes.”

“The YMCA of the East Bay is a long standing provider of early childhood education in West Berkeley, serving the youngest students in the community. Parents dropping off their children each morning face many hazards, such as drivers speeding down narrow and crowded blocks, large trucks and other vehicles double parking and reducing visibility, and drivers ignoring stop signs at intersections where pedestrians frequently cross,” said Melanie Mueller, Executive Director of the YMCA of the East Bay. “The implementation of street safety initiatives in West Berkeley will protect our young students and their families from avoidable and life threatening accidents.”