Berkeley hit-and-run raises concerns for safety

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University Ave. overpass looking west on Monday July 15 at approximately 1:00 p.m. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Update, July 17: The pedestrian killed was identified by the Alameda County Coroner’s office as John Patrick Miller, 46. No residence was provided. He died of “extensive blunt trauma.”

Update, 9:25 pm: The man killed in the suspected hit-and-run incident was a 46-year-old homeless man, according to the Alameda Country Coroner’s Bureau, reported on Monday night by Patch. The man’s name was not released because next of kin have not been notified.

Original story: A fatal hit-and-run accident on the University Avenue overpass Monday, July 15 has raised concerns about safety there and the absence of signage warning pedestrians not to walk on the roadway.

There is no sidewalk on the overpass. There is currently no sign prohibiting pedestrians or bicycles from using the overpass. An image taken for Google Maps in April 2011, however, shows that there used to be a sign in the divider to the right of the overpass heading west. It read: “Pedestrians, bicycles, motor driven cycles prohibited.”

A man was discovered by a Berkeley police officer at 5:10 a.m. this morning on the first section of the westbound section overpass near the intersection with Fourth Street. He was declared dead on the scene and preliminary investigations indicated he was the victim of a a hit-and-run accident.

Many Berkeleyside readers have expressed concerns and suggested ideas regarding pedestrian safety on the overpass in comments on our story reporting the accident.

“It’s a very confusing area for people who aren’t familiar with it,” wrote The_Sharkey, who added that he recently tried to cross the bridge on foot from the east side heading west. Although the area appeared sufficiently dangerous to discourage crossing, he said there were no signs warning pedestrians not to cross.

Attempts to reach a transportion spokesperson at the City of Berkeley which has jurisdiction for this stretch of road have so far proved unsuccessful. Farid Javandel, manager of the city of Berkeley’s transportation division, is out of town, and other city officials did not return requests for comment.

There is a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that crosses I-80 two blocks south of University and about three blocks east of where the overpass begins. Some commenters suggested there should be a sign at the University overpass directing pedestrians there.

“I believe better signage is needed to direct people to the pedestrian bridge,” David D. wrote on Berkeleyside.

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There are no signs indicating that pedestrians are not allowed on the overpass. On Monday July 15, a sign above a speed sign was covered with black plastic. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Abigail S. shared an anecdote from the perspective of a driver.

“I came close to hitting an older man on a bicycle on that very overpass just a couple weeks ago in daylight,” she wrote. “There was no way for me to stop safely to urge him back down off the overpass. I just prayed he made it across alive … Signs may not work 100%, but it’s the least we could do.”

The situation is not helped by the fact that walking directions for accessing the area west of the highway on Google Maps instruct pedestrians to use the University overpass (cycling directions correctly use the pedestrian and bike bridge).

In addition, when using Google Maps in the “map” mode as opposed to “satellite,” the nearby pedestrian bridge is only denoted with a thin gray line that may be difficult to notice.

Police investigations closed westbound traffic on the overpass, adjacent blocks, and the University Ave. on-ramp to I-80 for several hours this morning while conducting their investigation. The name of the victim had not been released at press time, and there were no leads on the vehicle that may have been involved in the hit-and-run. All the roadways were re-opened by 10:45 a.m.

Hit-and-run kills pedestrian on Berkeley overpass (07.15.13)

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  • Guest

    Not really. If the driver didn’t realize he hit anyone, then ‘feeling bad’ for him is simply a moot point.

  • Mbfarrel

    Perhaps you can provide a drawing, or at least a description of how the overpass should be reconfigured.

  • LizzyLiz

    Correction Guys he was my cousin who had previously been hit by a car as a child, and as a result he was extremely afraid and aware of the safety issues. And at 5:00am it is light and visibility is clear on the over ramp. Patrick was a big guy, there is no way anyone could miss him (5’10 220lbs) a guesstimate. Further, he is over familiar with the neighborhood as he has hung out there all his life. In particular that location where the gas stations are. Patrick would never travel up that ramp when it would be much easier, safer, and less challenging, to travel below it. The only foreseeable difference is over the ramp is more difficult and dangerous then under. And it’s illegal to walk the ramp.

    Something else has occurred in this situation. I dont know what but something drove Patrick over the ramp. If anyone out there has a clue please post it because some of us in his family really miss him and must get to the bottom of the situation.

  • LizzyLiz

    Not on that bridge/overpass they don’t, Not only is it illegal, but there are only room and lanes for moving vehicle. It’s the equivalent to walking on the freeway without a

  • Neighbor

    Berkeley has been doing a lot of lane painting and other traffic calming measures in N. Berkeley lately. Might there be some paint and concrete to calm traffic after University and Sixth? Most cars try to get up to freeway speed on that bit, only to have to slow down on the cloverleaf. Why not a covered pedestrian little bit of road and narrow the rest to the extent that it would do doable at the city’s 25 mph for most streets. As to the driver, I’ve found that “what goes around, comes around.”

  • LizzyLiz

    As time passes by there is much speculation going on. What I find interesting is the grey cloud that results from speculation. I personally am overwhelmed by the many opinions and responses that seem to serve only to confuse. Nevertheless, when the results are in and the real cause of Patrick’s death is discovered it will show us what all the guessing does. Until then I ask all who will take the time to comment to try and help with asking for a detailed investigation.