City Council Candidate Question 2: Safety on the Roads

2. Are you aware of the number of people that are injured on the roads in Albany each year? Do you think that conditions for bicycling or walking in our city could or should be improved?

[Sheri Spellwoman] This is a great question. The Albany Police Department does not keep statistics of traffic accidents, but I found the reported accidents on the CHP website. The most current information is from 2010. According to the CHP, in 2010 Albany had four collisions involving injured pedestrians and one that resulted in a pedestrian fatality. There were 12 collisions involving injured bicyclists and 0 bicyclist fatalities. Last spring I remember there being a fatal accident involving an 18 year-old skateboarder. I walk and bike regularly in Albany with my two young daughters. I think the biking is particularly dangerous. There is a large cycling community in Albany and I think we could (and should) do a lot to improve safety and accessibility of cycling here. The City Council has already approved some much needed measures in our ATP, which I strongly support funding and implementing.

[Pete Maass] Absolutely. Many of our sidewalks are in terrible shape, and need to be torn up, redone and cleared of vegetation. Potholes in the roadways have a far greater effect on a cyclist then on driver. If separated bike paths were added to our main streets, I believe that bike use would increase dramatically.

[Peggy Thomsen] According to the CHP, to which local jurisdictions send their reports, in 2010 Albany had 71 people injured in vehicles and one died; 12 bicyclists were injured; 3 motorcyclists were injured; and four pedestrians were injured and one died. As long as there are any injuries or deaths, we need to improve the record. I support a public information campaign by the city on its website and in written materials encouraging safer driver and cyclist practices. I would also encourage safe driving and biking classes with collaborative partners such as the Y, library, or the Senior Center using volunteers.

[Nick Pilch] The Active Transportation Plan reports that 75 people walking were involved in collisions between 2001 and 2009, and 59 people biking. There were 2 pedestrian fatalities in 2007 and 2003. For 2010, there were 12 bicycle injuries, 4 pedestrian injuries, and 1 pedestrian fatality. This is the most recent compiled data from the state. http://www.chp.ca.gov/switrs/pdf/2010-sec8.pdf . This is more than a person a month in 2010.
Yes, conditions both can and should be improved. I do not believe Albany’s streets are sufficiently safe for people walking and biking currently. The Active Transportation Plan (ATP) identifies San Pablo and Solano as having the most accidents. The current complete streets study of San Pablo will hopefully refine the ATP’s proposal to significantly improve its safety, particularly at Brighton for people walking and Washington for people cycling. The City’s undertaking design of a new streetscape for Solano east of Masonic is an opportunity to make that stretch safer, which has a high concentration of people walking involved in collisions. I will seek to prioritize finding funding for implementation of these projects.

[Michael Barnes] I am aware of the stats published in the Patch by Jonathan Walden and Preston Jordan, as I recall. Of course conditions should be approved, but that’s easier said than done. Getting measure F passed would help, and hustling some grants for safely improvements would be good, too. I suspect the city is doing that already. Alameda County’s Measure B1 would help, but it will require a 2/3 majority vote.
My priorities would be to improve crosswalk safety at night on Marin and San Pablo. Better street lighting would help, as would the recessed blinking lights that I’ve seen on crosswalks in places like downtown Petaluma.

[Tod Abbott] There is always room for improvement. We are experiencing what many, many other communities are experiencing — encouraging active modes of getting around while maintaining the automobile infrastructure that already utilizes about all the land we have available for transportation. That means lots of interaction of modes, and that means conflict — one in which the bicyclist or pedestrian almost always comes out the worse. Safe biking programs in the schools and other programs are a start, but more visible bicycle and pedestrian protection features — especially at the places where the modes of transportation are in direct conflict — are also needed.
I do think there are ample opportunities for improving conditions for walking and biking in Albany. One is obvious. Get the darn sidewalks fixed. I’ve twisted my ankle many times while walking around the city.
And there are many areas that are just a pain to access via a bicycle (especially when traveling with children, which I am often doing). I can manage going West on Buchanan — but coming back East is a mess. I’m very much looking forward to the bicycle improvements in that stretch that AS&R worked so hard to develop.
Conditions absolutely have to be improved. If we are going to meet our Climate Action Plan goals we must get more people choosing to walk or bike rather than drive.

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