Tag Archives: Pedestrian safety Berkeley


Driver charged in vehicular manslaughter of Berkeley man is ‘legally blind’

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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Update, Aug. 7: The Alameda County district attorney’s office has increased the vehicular manslaughter charge against Robert Gilchrist to a felony, according to court papers dated Aug. 7. See the complaint here. Authorities say Gilchrist struck and killed a 98-year-old pedestrian while driving in Berkeley in April.

Original story, Aug. 4: The driver charged with killing a 98-year-old former psychology professor on his daily walk in Berkeley in April had no license and told police he is “legally blind,” according to court papers that became available last week.

Robert Jack Gilchrist, 56, was charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office July 31 with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license, also a misdemeanor.

Vehicular manslaughter involves driving “in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence,” according to court papers.

Authorities say Gilchrist, of Oakland, hit the 98-year-old Berkeley man as he walked in a crosswalk on Sacramento Street at Bancroft Way on April 4. … Continue reading »

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Driver to enter plea after woman hurt in hit-and-run near Berkeley’s People’s Park

Image: Google Maps
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A Berkeley driver on probation for robbery — who reportedly fled in his car after knocking down a woman in the street, causing minor injuries, and hitting another vehicle as he tried to escape — is set to enter a plea in Alameda County Superior Court this week.

Authorities say James Jamell Watson-Dixon, 28, was driving on Dwight Way west of Hillegass Avenue on June 25 at 5:35 p.m. when he ran into a woman with his vehicle and knocked her to the ground, causing visible injuries and pain to her leg, according to court papers.

Before driving off, he stopped briefly and, as he did, a witness reached through his window and seized his wallet, which held Watson-Dixon’s driver’s license, among other documents. The witness later gave this to police. … Continue reading »

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Car strikes and kills 98-year-old pedestrian in Berkeley

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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A 98-year-old man was struck by a car Friday afternoon while crossing the intersection of Bancroft Way and Sacramento Street. He later died of his injuries.

Berkeley police said the man was struck around 12:23 p.m.

He was conscious and talking when police arrived, but he died at the hospital around 6 p.m., according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified him as Joseph Luft of Berkeley.

The driver is cooperating with police, Coats said in a press release. It does not appear that drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision, she said.

Luft, a psychologist, was the creator of the Johari Window, a technique he and Harry Ingrahm invented in 1955 to help people better understand their relationship with others. He taught at San Francisco State University for more than 20 years.

The Luft family released a statement Saturday stating that Joseph Luft was a World War II veteran, “a proud father of four and beloved local figure,” who had taken a daily walk for more than 50 years. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley sets speed limit at 15 mph around 13 schools

Many drivers near Cragmont Elementary were found to be among the fastest motorists around local schools during a city speed survey. Photo: ELS
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Drivers will be asked to slow down near 13 Berkeley schools after the adoption by the City Council of a 15 mph speed zone around them, despite a police officer’s analysis of injury collisions near schools that showed speed was not a factor in those accidents, and another officer’s assertion that enforcement would be “difficult, at best.”

According to an analysis completed by a city traffic analyst of 327 documented injury collisions in Berkeley from August 2010 to July 2013, 23 took place near school zones. None of those accidents were caused by unsafe speeds, he said.

Most of the accidents — 73% — resulted from drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Another 23% were due to pedestrians who failed to yield to drivers in the roadway, police wrote.

Thirteen of the collisions near schools took place during the school day, and four involved juvenile pedestrians. The juveniles were found to be at fault in all four of the cases. … Continue reading »

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Driver strikes 3 blind pedestrians in Berkeley, flees

Image: Google maps
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The Berkeley Police Department arrested an Oakland woman Thursday in connection with several violations, including felony driving under the influence, after they say she struck and injured three blind people walking downtown.

Just before 4 p.m., police responded to a reported hit-and-run collision with injuries at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Haste Street, said Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson.

Upon arrival, officers found three visually impaired people who had been struck and injured.  … Continue reading »

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Pedestrian hospitalized after car crash in Berkeley

Gilman and Eastshore. Image: Google Maps
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A man was hospitalized after walking into the roadway and being struck by a car in West Berkeley last week, authorities reported this week.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said police believe the man, a 54-year-old Berkeley resident, was likely at fault for the collision because he had “entered into the roadway in an area not designated for pedestrians when he was struck.” Police said alcohol may have been a factor on the pedestrian’s part. … Continue reading »

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$15,000 reward offered after pedestrian hit-and-run death

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The city of Berkeley is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver responsible for a hit-and-run accident that killed a 46-year-old man last week, officials said Monday in a prepared statement.

The accident took place July 15 at 5:10 a.m. on the University Avenue overpass, which pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited from using.  … Continue reading »

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Sign added near site of fatal Berkeley hit-and-run

University Avenue overpass sign
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A sign has been installed on a median next to the University Avenue overpass the day after a 46-year old man, identified Wednesday as John Patrick Miller, was killed there in a suspected hit-and-run incident. The sign prohibits pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorbikes from using the bridge, and directs walkers to use the pedestrian bridge (although without providing directions to it).

When the fatal accident occurred, no signs were present on the east end of the overpass, which connects University Avenue to the I-80 ramps and the Berkeley Marina. The incident raised concerns about pedestrian safety in the area. Several Berkeleyside readers suggested walkers should be informed that a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the highway is located just a few blocks to the north south, near the intersection of Addison Street and Bolivar Drive. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley hit-and-run raises concerns for safety

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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. … Continue reading »

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Hit-and-run kills pedestrian on Berkeley overpass

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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, 11:01 am: As of 10:44 a.m. the Berkeley Police Department’s fatal accident investigation team has cleared the scene of the fatal collision on University Avenue. The roadway is now open in both directions. The investigation continues. No information has been released on the victim and there is no possible suspect information.

Original story: Berkeley police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run accident that happened on the University Avenue overpass over Interstate 80 this morning. … Continue reading »

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Pedestrian in critical condition after auto accident

The accident happened at around 8:20 p.m.on University Avenue near the intersection with 10th Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A Berkeley man is in critical condition after being struck by a car while walking on University Avenue just west of San Pablo Avenue on Tuesday night, authorities said.

“We received multiple 911 calls at approximately 8:23 p.m.,” said Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, via email at about 11:20 p.m. The man was taken by the Berkeley Fire Department to a local hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. … Continue reading »

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Rally commemorates pedestrian deaths in Berkeley

Dan McMullen and his wife, second and third from left bow their heads in prayer for four pedestrians killed nearby in the past five years. Photo: Ted Friedman
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About 10 people gathered on Saturday to remember pedestrians who have been killed in Berkeley in recent years.

They gathered on the median on Adeline Street near Ashby in honor of Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month. Cruz, five years old, was on an after school outing when he was hit and killed by a truck  on Feb. 27, 2009 at the intersection of Derby and Warring. There has been an informal memorial at the spot he died ever since. … Continue reading »

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What’s the rationale behind Berkeley walk signal sounds?

Audible walk signal sounds can help orient disabled pedestrians in a variety of ways. Photo: morethanreal
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In response to an earlier Ask Berkeleyside post about walk signals in Berkeley aimed to help the disabled, one reader asked a follow-up question about signal sounds, or the lack thereof: “I’m curious about the sound supplements to the buttons. Most of them in Berkeley don’t produce a sound when pushed. Some of them ring. Some of them buzz. Some chirp. Some of them talk. And they don’t seem consistent. Some buzz any time they are touched but produce no other audible sounds. Others seem to be giving other cues. I haven’t been able to figure out precisely what these sounds are meant to signal in all the different configurations.”

City spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said she turned to Berkeley’s Transportation and Disability Compliance staff for the answer. … Continue reading »

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