Friday, February 02, 2007

BRT And Pedestrian Safety

In response to an article about neighborhood residents complaining about how dangerous it is to cross Telegraph Ave., I wrote the following letter to the editor, which appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet:


Editors, Daily Planet:

Neighborhood residents have complained about the removal of the Telegraph Avenue median strip, which makes it less safe to cross, and Councilmember Worthington has suggested that AC Transit should improve pedestrian safety when it improves the street for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

It is important for residents to understand that a full implementation of BRT, with dedicated bus lanes, will make the street much more safe for pedestrians, for two reasons.

First, it will slow traffic by leaving only one traffic lane in each direction instead of two. There would be no fast lane: all drivers would have to go the same speed as the most prudent drivers.

Second, the curbs around the bus lanes could easily be designed so they are also safe places for crossing pedestrians. There would be two pedestrian refuges at each intersection instead of just one median.

I expect that the safer crossing would also help to revitalize business on Telegraph south of Dwight, as it would become easy for people shopping on one side of the street to cross to the stores on the other side.

In addition to the global benefit of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the regional benefit of providing a more efficient transportation system. Bus Rapid Transit would provide the local benefit of increasing pedestrian safety.

Charles Siegel


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