Pedestrian Deaths Spur Anxiety

Dennis Evanosky
Two pedestrian deaths over a 12-day span have put Alameda on edge. On Jan. 31 an alleged drunk driver struck and killed a pedestrian on Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway. When officers from the Alameda Police Department (APD) arrived, they arrested the driver. Police learned that the state of California had suspended his driver’s license. They also learned that the driver had taken the car allegedly involved in the death without the owner’s permission.  

Eleven days later, Alameda Fire Department (AFD) firefighters and paramedics responded with APD to a report of a collision at Encinal Avenue and Walnut Street. When they arrived, they discovered that an automobile had struck a 60-year-old pedestrian. Paramedics transported the victim to the hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries. 

The collisions that caused both these deaths remain under investigation. 

The current rash of pedestrian-involved accidents in Alameda stretches back to last September, when automobiles struck seven children walking or riding bicycles on Alameda’s streets. The following month, six-month-old twins and their mother escaped injury when an automobile crashed into their Lincoln Avenue home. The driver of the SUV had lost control while trying to avoid colliding with another vehicle. 

In November 2019, the Alameda City Council adopted a resolution establishing Vision Zero as the City’s guiding principle for transportation planning, design and maintenance. The city plans to complete a Vision Zero Action Plan early next year that includes specific actions and policy changes to increase street safety in Alameda.

“A variety of tools can help drivers slow down,” the city states on its website. Most of these tools involve what the city calls “the three E’s”: engineering, enforcement and education. The city is aiming to slow traffic “in order to improve safety for people who walk, bike, drive or use public transit.” 

Last year, the city completed a traffic-calming project — a “road diet” — on Main Street between Pacific Avenue and the Main Street Ferry. This West End project added bike lanes, converted the street from four lanes into two with a center turn lane and improved traffic-signal timing.

The Alameda Sun joins Frank Muñoz in inviting Island City residents to a town-hall meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 5, in the multi-purpose room at Love Elementary School, 2025 Santa Clara Ave.

Vice-Mayor John Knox White and Councilmember Jim Oddie will moderate the meeting, which will focus on traffic and pedestrian safety. Hear from city staff on recent safety improvements across the Island, priority intersections for work happening throughout the year, as well as long-term safety projects. Questions and comments are welcome.