For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Marcia Brown-Machen, Public Health, (510) 981-5309

Berkeley awarded grant to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign

Berkeley, California (Thursday, December 02, 2010) - Berkeley is fortunate to have both a climate conducive to outdoor activities and a network of roads, sidewalks and paths that support and promote biking and walking. To help pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and drivers share the road safely, the City of Berkeley’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program has been awarded a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Berkeley has a well-deserved reputation as a bike-able and walk-able city,” said Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman. “However, safety must also continue to be promoted to decrease the number of people who get hurt. The Office of Traffic Safety grant will allow the Berkeley Public Health Department to improve bicycle, skateboarding and pedestrian safety through primary prevention interventions.”

These interventions include:
• Conducting workshops and trainings in school, after-school and summer camp programs;
• Offering free helmet fittings;
• Holding the annual Bicycle Rodeo;
• Enhancing helmet policies and compliance;
• Providing a forum for people who have been saved by their helmet to tell their stories; and
• Hosting educational and family events.

Based on the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) collision rankings, the City of Berkeley ranks number one out of 55 like-sized cities for bicyclists and pedestrians killed and injured.  Berkeley’s pedestrian injury rates are relatively constant across age groups while bicycle injuries are highest among children and young adults. Nearly a third of all injuries resulting from moving vehicle collisions involve pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Compared to like-sized cities, Berkeley has a much greater number of people who walk  or bike for transportation. Pedestrians and cyclists are not just walking to work and school, but they are also traveling to public transit hubs like bus stops and BART stations. While this helps to explain the high number of collisions in Berkeley, it also shows that there is a large portion of our population which is at risk. The City is working aggressively to reduce these risks, especially among Berkeley’s youth.

“It’s critical that all of us work to be safe pedestrians and drivers,” said Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. “We also need to be conscious of the example we set for young people who are still developing their safety skills. As more of us share the road, the City will continue to work across departments to coordinate our education, enforcement and engineering efforts to make safer city streets.”

With previous funding from the OTS, Berkeley’s young bicyclists increased their helmet use by 56 percent over a three year period. Helmet compliance rates increased from only 41 percent among young people in early 2007 to 64 percent in late 2009. While this was a significant increase, 36 percent of youth continue to be at risk of serious head injury due to not wearing a helmet. However, bicycle injuries remain high. Local crash and citation data show that 192 bicyclist injuries occurred between July and June 2008-2009.

The City of Berkeley Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program aims to create conditions and practices that support safer biking and walking, working in collaboration with community partners including the Berkeley Unified School District, the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program as well as both the Berkeley Police Department and the City of Berkeley Public Works Department’s Transportation Division. 

For more information, contact Marcia Brown-Machen, at (510) 981-5309 or