Public Comment

AC Transit + Berkeley Transportation Division = RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Russ Tilleman
Thursday May 05, 2016 - 12:04:00 PM

NOTE: This is my understanding of the facts in this situation. I called the City of Berkeley to verify this, but they refused to talk to me about it. If anyone at the City wants to dispute anything I have said here, I encourage them to discuss it with me.

The traffic signal at Durant Avenue and Bowditch Street was "upgraded" recently as part of the City of Berkeley's plan to "Work with AC Transit to upgrade the City’s traffic signal system to provide transit-priority operation". At the request of AC Transit, the Berkeley Transportation Division changed a safe intersection into a very dangerous place for pedestrians.


I tried to cross Durant at Bowditch around midnight a few days ago. Cars on Durant had a flashing yellow light, essentially a green light telling them to drive through the intersection without stopping.

Not wanting to be killed by a speeding car, I pushed the WALK button and waited for the WALK light, but it never came.

Someone at the Transportation Division seems to have programmed the signal to not give pedestrians the WALK light, and not give cars on Durant the red light, late at night.

In supposedly walkable Berkeley, the government chose to prioritize cars over people. And not just in a minor way, where we have to wait for a while for the WALK light. Instead, the Transportation Division now forces us to run across 3 lanes of speeding traffic in the dark every time we want to cross the street.  


This reminds me of the Terminator movies, where the machines tried to kill off the humans. Except this is the City government, collaborating with AC Transit against the people who live here. 


We have seen these kinds of problems with AC Transit and the Transportation Division before. Their failed attempt to force a greenwashed bus lane onto Telegraph. Their admitted environmental fraud in relocating the bus stop at College and Parker. And just the generally lousy bus service and lack of consideration they give us in return for the high taxes and high bus fares we all pay. 

It is a classic case of non-responsive government. Literally, the traffic signal does not respond to a pedestrian's very reasonable request to cross the street safely. 

Three lanes of traffic is a long way to cross in the dark, when cars, trucks and buses all have the light. Especially for anyone who is vision-, hearing- or mobility-impaired, like my friend who recently broke her ankle and is on crutches. This kind of anti-pedestrian behavior by the City could easily get an innocent person killed. 


This is a major problem, when Transportation Division employees, some of whom do not even live in Berkeley, try to tell us how to live our lives. Or in the case of this traffic signal, risk getting us killed in their delusional attempt to fix global warming and save the polar bears by giving AC Transit every misguided and dangerous thing they ask for. 

I contacted Kriss Worthington, the District 7 Council member, about this issue and he got back to me within a few minutes and said he will look into solving this problem. And hopefully it will get solved. But it should never have been allowed to get this far. It is the job of the Transportation Division to make responsible decisions and protect the lives of Berkeley residents. 

If the people working in the Transporation Division can't or won't do their jobs responsibly, maybe we need to get rid of them and hire some competent people who can and will do their jobs.