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Pedestrians get lesson in safety

UC Berkeley traffic center conducts a field trip examining some Glendale intersections.

May 18, 2009|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Residents and community leaders walked the streets Saturday and examined local city intersections to determine whether they are safe for pedestrians.

The stroll was a walkability assessment as part of the Community Pedestrian Safety Training seminar that the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center and California Walks put on for the city.

Saturday’s seminar was the first of 12 that the center will conduct this year, said Jill Cooper, the center’s assistant director.

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The center selected Glendale for the training seminar due to its high number of pedestrian-related accidents and fatalities.

Glendale’s pedestrian safety problem is being noticed throughout the state, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian said during the seminar.

“Enough is enough, and the time has come that we really have to fight against people bringing mayhem in our streets,” he said.

City and police officials have tried to combat the pedestrian safety problem by installing lighted crosswalks, adjusting speed limits and conducting pedestrian stings and helicopter patrols of Glenoaks Boulevard, said Councilman Ara Najarian, who initially asked the center to help the city.

Pedestrians most at risk of being hit are seniors, disabled people and children, Najarian said.

Lessons taught at the seminar, he said, will hopefully be used to create a pedestrian safety action plan as well as help residents learn how to be safe walking or riding bicycles and how to drive safely.

“The bottom line here is saving our seniors, our children, our ethnic communities and some of the busiest adults,” Najarian said.

Glendale was also the first of 12 cities to get the seminar because of its “strong degree of community involvement,” said Wendy Alfsen, California Walks’ executive director.

“Most communities get involved because of a galvanizing event,” she said.

Alfsen asked those who attended the seminar to raise their arms if they knew a pedestrian who was killed by a motorist, and if they knew a pedestrian who was nearly hit by a motorist.

Most people raised their arms.

The length of a crosswalk, she said, can be problematic and lead to accidents.

If a crosswalk is too long, pedestrians struggle crossing in time, and motorists can become impatient, Alfsen said.

Last year, 84 pedestrian-related accidents and four fatalities occurred in the city, Glendale Police Lt. Carl Povilaitis said.

“All of out fatalities last year were pedestrians,” he said.

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