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Broken Crosswalk Lights Hazardous for Disabled

By Rio Bauce
Friday August 11, 2006

Broken Santa Rosa lights at the corner of Parker and Telegraph have been causing difficulties for blind people and other pedestrians. These lights, which are embedded in the roadway and activated by a push button, flash to notify drivers that pedestrians are coming and that they need to stop. On Tuesday morning, the Berkeley Office of Transportation was notified that the light at Parker and Telegraph streets wasn’t working. 

“I got an e-mail from Councilmember [Kriss] Worthington himself, indicating that it was not working and I directed it to the electrical crew,” said Tamalyn Bright, Office of Transportation. “We found out that our electrical crew had decided to refer it to Silicon Constellations, an outside contractor.” 

When Worthington was informed of the update, he replied, “We are very grateful to Tamalyn for her rapid response.” 

George Conklin, nearby Berkeley resident, first noticed the malfunction of the lights on Sunday night and reported it to Worthington. 

“I live on Parker and I occasionally walk up to Telegraph,” said Conklin. “I push it every time I go up there and this time it wasn’t functioning. Why should such a recent system stop working?” 

Craig Martin, account manager for Silicon Constellations, Inc., answered, “It turns out that we did an evaluation on this system. We discovered that the installation was not hooked up properly. The crew did not hook up the activator controller and that is why the system is down. We are hoping to get it up and working by Friday or Saturday.” 

“It has a tremendous impact on the visually impaired community,” said Chris Mullin, information referral specialist for the Center for Independent Living, a Berkeley disabled rights advocacy group that helps disabled people live independently in the community, and which is located just blocks away from the Parker and Telegraph street corner. “The lights have served as a real aid to their independence. If they don’t have that, they need to rely on people on the street who either help them physically or just verbally indicate that it is okay to cross.” 

Santa Rosa lights, or blinking traffic lights, first gained prominence in Berkeley when former Councilmember Polly Armstrong joined with other Berkeley residents to implement this system at the corner of Claremont Avenue and Brookside Drive. Pedestrians were concerned about crossing busy intersections.  

“I was searching for ways to make it safer to cross the road,” said Armstrong. “I had read about the lights and thought that it was a great idea.” 

Since then, due to their success in reducing car-to-pedestrian accidents, Berkeley has installed these systems all around the city at major intersections. 



The Santa Rosa light system at the corner of Parker Street and Telegraph Avenue has been causing problems for the disabled. Photograph by Rio Bauce.