Parents not officials pushed through safety improvements

Slow down, you’re moving too fast
We’ve got to make the morning last
You’re driving in a pedestrian zone
Look out for kids!
We’re all commuting

Don’t ask families at Malcolm X Elementary School to wait passively for safety improvements to their school while BUSD, the City of Berkeley, and Cal Trans lumber through their bureaucratic process — just ask the Malcolm X Traffic and Safety Committee for help, and help surely is on the way.

Three years after a tragic accident at Ellis and Ashby, pedestrians were still dodging cars. Pedestrians, I say with terse lips, because these pedestrians consist primarily of elementary school students and senior citizens. The Malcolm X Traffic and Safety Committee spent two years attempting to push through safety improvements, fully funded by the Safe Routes to School, but got stuck somewhere between the City of Berkeley’s transportation projects and Cal Trans cumbersome planning process.

Tired of being shuffled though sub-committees, review commissions, and endless public works meetings, the Malcolm X Traffic and Safety Committee used public pressure and a savvy media campaign to push their project through completion.

This August, as students arrived at school, they were greeted with flashing lights at Ellis and Ashby, activated by pedestrian touch.


Almost every time you use these lights, cars stop.  Almost, I say because I still get chased out of the crosswalk by aggressive commuters on their way to Interstate 80.

Slow down cars – we’re all commuting

On April 8, 2012, the Malcolm X Traffic and Safety Committee unveiled their newest safety innovation, the Safe, Drop-off, and Roll Valet. Run by parent and student volunteers, commuting families can now deliver kids to handy drop-off zones on both King and Ellis streets.

Planning ahead for the additional students slated for Malcolm X from Central zone is critical. Our school is the largest elementary school within BUSD. Addressing the chaotic morning drop-off at Malcolm X was necessary before another tragic accident or injury occurred.

Our collective effort is paying off and we challenge other Berkeley Schools to set up drop-off zones. Especially Berkeley High. MLK is a morning mess! We are happy to help.

We are grateful for the amazing communication brokering by Rachel Davidman, Transform CA’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Michael Vecchio from the City of Berkeley who helped coordinate City Resources, processes, and the will of the people into a cohesive plan.

I am here to help you and together we make community. So let’s connect, with respect, and protect each other, our campus, and our community, because that’s who we are at Malcolm X!

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Jenne King is a Malcolm X School parent and chair of its Traffic and Safety Committee.