Friends of Fred Lupke—the Berkeley disabled activist killed in a traffic accident last year—will gather at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the third floor Community Room of the Berkeley Library’s Main Branch, 2090 Kittredge St. to celebrate his life and work.
Among other projects, Lupke led the fight to install a therapeutic warm water pool at Berkeley High School, and shortly before his death was involved in the opposition to the proposed Library Gardens housing development behind the central library. The development is slated to replace a parking lot, and Lupke had expressed fear that it would hinder downtown access for disabled residents.
Lupke was killed last September when a car struck his wheelchair on Ashby Avenue between Harper and Ellis streets. The driver of the car was not charged in the accident since Lupke was prohibited by California law to ride his motorized wheelchair in the street. Many of the city’s disabled activists bitterly complained following his death that the impassable condition of the sidewalk gave him no choice. Wheelchair riders said they avoided that stretch of sidewalk because of numerous potholes and a defunct driveway that that sloped the narrow pavement, making passage almost impossible.
The city recently completed repairs to the stretch of sidewalk.
Councilmember Dona Spring, who is disabled herself and uses a motorized wheelchair, said she was heartened by the stepped-up city sidewalk repairs, but notes that there are still many locations where wheelchair riders are not able to go. She pointed to one of them directly across from the old City Hall on Milvia Street, the sidewalk on the west side of Civic Center Park that is too narrow to permit wheelchair travel. The sidewalk is directly in sight of windows from the chambers where Berkeley City Council does its weekly deliberation.
The celebration will include live music, food from Cafe De La Paz, a photographic tribute and an opportunity for friends to share their memories of Lupke. A brief program will begin at 2:15 p.m. highlighted by a Berkeley City Council proclamation declaring the former Oakland resident an honorary resident of Berkeley.