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Looking to address pedestrian-safety issue

City, UC Berkeley host workshop to discuss safety ideas relating to pedestrians.

April 18, 2014|By Veronica Rocha
  • Several tables of community members gather to discuss ideas for pedestrian safety at a community pedestrian safety training at the Glendale Central Library on Thursday, April 17, 2014. The program works with the public to come up with answers to improve safety in Glendale.
Several tables of community members gather to discuss… (Tim Berger, Glendale…)

Glendale's ongoing issues with pedestrian safety have claimed the lives of two 86-year-old men just within the past four months.

The figure is specifically distressing to Daniel Mehrabian because his grandfather was one of those men killed.

"I wasn't ready to lose him," he said.

Determined to find answers as to why pedestrians, particularly seniors, are being killed by vehicles in Glendale, Mehrabian sat down with community stakeholders Thursday night at the highly-anticipated UC Berkeley pedestrian workshop to discuss the city's enduring traffic safety problem.

The workshop was revived through a move by Transportation and Parking Commissioner Maro Yacoubian, who asked UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center last year to return to Glendale for a second time to help address its pedestrian-safety problem.

A similar workshop was held in 2009 after Glendale was selected for it because of its high number of pedestrian-involved collisions and fatalities.

Last year, five people were killed in pedestrian-involved traffic collisions. Police have logged 14 pedestrian deaths — most of which have been seniors — between 2008 and 2013.

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Roughly 52% of collisions between 2007 and 2011 were caused because the driver violated the pedestrian's right-of-way, according to California Walks, a pedestrian safety advocacy group.

But in fatal collisions, both driver and pedestrian behavior played a role.

"The only way you can have true impacts and reductions in fatalities, injuries and traffic collisions is through modification of the behaviors of our residents and our visitors," Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro told the group.

Pedestrians should follow the rules of the road, and drivers should slow down and pay attention to their surroundings, he said.

"Working together is the way we are going to do this," Castro said. "Many crime problems that we face, we can solve quickly. One thing I know for sure, traffic safety is a never-ending event."

Just this week, police cited 22 drivers for allegedly failing to yield for a pedestrian during an undercover enforcement operation at Victory Boulevard and Irving Avenue.

Three other drivers were given warnings and an informational pamphlet. Three drivers were also cited for various violations, including speeding, driving without a license and possessing marijuana.

Another approach to addressing pedestrian safety issues is the idea of creating a continuous and focused message.

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