Kensington Girl Hit in Crosswalk Near Colusa Circle, Police Investigating

A 10-year-old Kensington girl was hit by a car while she in a crosswalk near Colusa Circle last week. The impact smashed the car windshield. The girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital. She appears not to have suffered serious injuries.

A 10-year-old Kensington girl was hit by a car when she was in a crosswalk on Colusa Avenue just north of Colusa Circle in Kensington last Wednesday, police said.

The driver of the car – an elderly woman from Berkeley – apparently did not see the child, said Kensington police Sgt. Keith Barrow.

The girl, a student at Kensington Hilltop Elementary School, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, he said. Her family Tuesday night said she is appears to have not suffered any serious injuries. She is refraining from athletic activities until her follow-up check-up, they said.

The girl was in the crosswalk at Sante Fe Avenue about 5:06 p.m. when she was struck. Vehicles traveling north on Colusa stopped for her, Barrow said. The car that struck her was going south and, seeing the other cars stopped, slowed down and was not speeding but did not stop, he said.

The collision knocked the girl up onto the car hood and into the windshield, which was "smashed and partly pushed in," Barrow said.

The driver stopped right after the collision, and the girl was able to get up and walk around, Barrow said. The girl complained of back pain and was placed on a back-board before being put into the ambulance, he said.

The driver was not cited at the time, Barrow said. Whether a citation may yet be issued will depend on the outcome of his investigation, which is continuing, he said. There were some conflicting accounts on whether the girl may have been running, he said.

The crosswalk is about four blocks south of another Colusa crosswalk at Fairmount Avenue where a 17-year-old Kensington girl was hit by a car in July. She was taken to a hospital with an ankle injury.

At its meeting last Thursday, the Kensington Hilltop Elementary School PTA voted to investigate installing flags for pedestrians to use at that intersection where the 10-year-old girl was hit and elsewhere at Colusa Circle, said PTA President Romy Douglass.

Leslie Reckler, who heads the PTA's intersection flags projects, said she contacted Contra Costa County officials after the meeting and said it's likely that the county will send a traffic engineer to the intersections to evaluate the possibility. The county oversees streets in Kensington, which is unincorporated.

The PTA, with a county permit, has previously installed crossing flags at about 10 crosswalk intersections in Kensington, mostly around the school and some around Arlington Avenue, Reckler said.

Last week's collision also revived neighborhood alarm about traffic safety along Colusa.

"We are likely to use this incident as a catalyst for improving pedestrian safety on the Circle," said resident Rodney Paul.

Residents say that speeding along Colusa is a continuing hazard for people, as well as cars parked on the street. Another stretch of Colusa further north in El Cerrito has also prompted numerous neighborhood complaints.

Rodney Paul October 10, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Thank you for this reporting, Charles. One question: the article makes it sound like this occurred in the Santa Fe crosswalk but the phot shows the Colusa Ave. crosswalk near the intersection with Santa Fe. Can you please clarify this? Also, I am working with other Colusa Circle residents to encourage the County to make needed changes for pedestrian safety. Email me at rodney.paul510@gmail.com if you would like to join our Colusa Circle Google Group email list and be part of this important discussion.
Local Mom October 10, 2012 at 04:30 PM
The whole larger Circle area is one that is in need of a thorough review for safety issues IMHO. For instance, there is no marked crosswalk at Santa Fe/Oak View, despite that being the location of the Farmers Market, not to mention a preschool with 60 families. For another, cars typically do not come to a full stop before entering the circle. It might be more realistic to eliminate the stop signs, thus other cars and peds won't get a false sense of security. I could go on all day... (I am at the Circle 8-9/x week, both as a driver and as a ped pushing a stroller)
Marcia Wright Hickman October 10, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I certainly avoid driving in that area, now it appears that I shouldn't walk there either. By the way, the child that was hit is a resident of El Cerrito, not Kensington.
Lori October 10, 2012 at 06:17 PM
The accident occurred in the crosswalk on Colusa near Santa Fe and the child is a Kensington resident. The area can be confusing because the El Cerrito-Kensington border is the center line on Santa Fe and on Colusa north of the intersection. Local Mom is right--the Circle does need a review for pedestrian safety, but there is no stop sign at the crosswalk where the accident occurred. The north bound driver on Colusa followed the law and stopped for the pedestrian waiting to cross in a crosswalk. The south bound driver on Colusa did not stop.
Susan October 10, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Folks, a child was hit. Does it matter where they live?Maybe they were visiting from Mexico? Totally irrelevant to the matter at hand. And totally irrelevant to the existing laws at hand.
Lori October 10, 2012 at 08:11 PM
We should be outraged that a child was hit regardless of where she lives. My point in correcting it was that she should be able to walk safely in her own neighborhood, which happens to include parts of Kensington, El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley. We have to work together to make the Colusa Circle neighborhood safer for all four. Hard to do when drivers (wherever they are from) zone out and/or speed when driving on Colusa, Santa Fe and the side streets around the Circle.
patrice chamberlain October 10, 2012 at 08:39 PM
The pedestrian incidents seem to be increasing and yet the discussion (not just on the Patch but overall) still seems to focus on improving pedestrian safety at the individual intersection or road. We really need to take a more comprehensive review of pedestrian safety throughout El Cerrito and Kensington. It sounds like most residents are pretty clear on what the hot spots are. Making the necessary improvements/safety measures may seem like an expensive proposition but certainly an ounce of prevention is cheaper than the alternative of pedestrian injury or death.
Dorothy Coakley October 10, 2012 at 08:54 PM
That whole area is very difficult to traverse as a pedestrian. Its also very difficult for motorists: merging from Santa Fe onto Colusa is a true nightmare even when one is creeping cautiously into the intersection. I'm pleased 'n proud that my neighbor Romy Douglass is stepping up to the plate...she knows whereof she speaks. We live on a terribly busy and dangerous intersection also. And we both post cautionary signs on cars and lawns to warn motorists to be careful. My heart goes out to the young child and her family. It shouldn't take an accident to remind the community to be responsible.
evilincarKnit October 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Thanks Dorothy! Leslie Reckler is the driving force (no pun intended!) behind the flags at intersections and is an invaluable asset to the PTA and our combined 'AlBerKenitto' community.
Paul October 10, 2012 at 10:02 PM
My observation is that in addition to speed as a factor, MANY motorists are driving while distracted by cell phones/mp3 players/etc. Another factor is "driver ability" - I have seen a number of elderly drivers who probably should not be driving (I have seen an elderly person driving on the sidewalk after failing to successfully negotiate a turn in El Cerrito!). While there are some instances of poor crosswalk placement, blind curves, etc, I think some of the recent incidents are an issue of operator error and not so much an issue of "dangerous" designs. A 5-year study conducted in San Diego found that "...more pedestrian accidents occur in marked crosswalks than unmarked crosswalks by a ratio of approximately 6:1." After comparing the volume of pedestrians using each type of crosswalk, the study concluded "... in terms of usage, two times as many pedestrian accidents occur in marked crosswalks as compared with unmarked crosswalks. Evidence suggests that this poor accident record... is a reflection of the pedestrians' attitude and behavior when using the marked crosswalk..." Basically - when a pedestrian sees the marked crosswalk they ASSUME it is safe and that cars will stop. That is NEVER a good assumption - painting two white lines across the road does not make it any safer!
Paul October 10, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Another intersection that scares me is the one in front of the Kensington Library. 99% of the time Arlington motorists see a flashing yellow light and they become completely conditioned to that - rarely expecting that it will actually turn red. Only when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button does the light change to red, and many motorists don't even notice. I have seen many cars zoom right through the red light because they are so conditioned to it being a blinking yellow light. That intersection is just an accident waiting to happen.
evilincarKnit October 10, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I agree, Paul, and I'm happy to say that there has been an increased police presence at that intersection as well as a crossing guard during the peak school times. It's not 100% safe, of course, but I feel the Kensington police have been very responsive to this issue. It's a very tricky intersection to navigate, both as a pedestrian and as a driver.
John Stashik October 10, 2012 at 11:23 PM
From the story it sounds like the kid had no serious injury. That's fortunate. Your comment regarding outrage because "... a child was hit" hopefully meant outrage if anyone was hit. (Think of the biker who hit and killed a senior IFO Arlington Park.) But traffic accidents have always been with us. Clueless drivers staring at a GPS device while driving (totally unnecessary) cause me to worry.
Barbara Witte October 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM
The crosswalk on Colusa at Visalia is also a dangerous place. As soon as they have rounded The Circle and are continuing south toward Berkeley, many drivers tend to speed up in the block in front of the beauty salon and market. A slight bend in Colusa at Ocean View and foliage on the west side of Colusa also somewhat obscure the Visalia/Colusa crosswalk. In fact, the entire stretch of Colusa south of The Circle past the Thousand Oaks/Colusa intersesction 4-way STOP and the Thousand Oaks Elementary School through to Solano Avenue needs one single consistent slow speed.posted and enforced. Too many speed changes ranging from 15 to 25 mph posted along that segment are confusing and tricky for a street that vehicles share with pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders.
Dorothy Coakley October 11, 2012 at 01:16 AM
AlBerkenitto! That one I'm going to remember. As well as "Leslie Reckler" as driving force! (I support flags at intersections, but would rather see a "stash" of florescent flags on both sides of the street...so a pedestrian could take one to wave throughout their crossing and place in the receptacle on the opposite side. (Yes...I know I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...)
evilincarKnit October 11, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Well Dorothy, I'm about to make your day. That's EXACTLY what Leslie has done around Kensington School and on the Arlington, and that's what we're talking about doing on Colusa! Glad it will make at least one person happy :-)
Dorothy Coakley October 11, 2012 at 03:53 AM
And you did! I'm a flag-waver' happy camper! Kudos to all of you!
Eileen McNally October 11, 2012 at 06:44 AM
We live near the Colusa circle with our family using it as drivers, pedestrians & cyclists many times each day. This accident really is truly haunting because I see near misses everyday and I have a 10 year old daughter! The course is really more of a football shape or long oval so the drivers heading North & South bound on Colusa Av don't make a wide arc while the center vegetation obstructs visibility. As a pedestrian you are already half-way across before you see the oncoming traffic and since they don't really need to 'round' any circle they're immediately picking up speed with their view of the other side equally obstructed by that crazy vegetation. I'm thinking I might start video taping our crossings to catalog the frequency of near misses.
Charles Burress (Editor) October 11, 2012 at 09:37 AM
Rodney, Sgt. Barrow said the accident occurred in the crosswalk that goes across Colusa.
Lori October 11, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Eileen is right about the shape of the Circle and vegetation being a problem. I see lots of near hits on the Colusa crosswalks. The intersection where this accident happened has similar issues, as it's an awkward triangle. The southbound lane on Colusa approaching Santa Fe narrows quickly in a short distance while on a curve before coming up on the crosswalk where the girl was hit.
Lori October 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Eileen is right about the shape of the Circle and vegetation being a problem. I see lots of near hits on the Colusa crosswalks. The intersection where this accident happened has similar issues, as it's an awkward triangle. The southbound lane on Colusa approaching Santa Fe narrows quickly in a short distance while on a curve before coming up on the crosswalk where the girl was hit. Pedestrians don't see cars coming from that direction around the curve.
Christopher Kuhi October 11, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I agree completely. I have been hypnotized by that blinking yellow light myself
Susan October 11, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Pedestrian accidents do seem to be increasing throughout our local bay area. I, for one, think that everyone is distracted either talking on their phones, texting, or listening to music with headphones. As parents, we need to REINFORCE to our children the importance of looking both ways carefully before we cross streets, removing all electronic devices! If this little girl was similar to my children, maybe she wasn't even paying attention! I see it in Berkeley all the time, people (not always young, either) crossing streets not even looking to see if it is safe. Everyone on foot needs to stop and PAY ATTENTION to cars and bikes and keep oneself safe.
Lori October 12, 2012 at 12:01 AM
John, my intent wasn't to distinguish between child, pedestrian, adult, bicyclist, etc. I meant that I don't reserve my outrage for someone from Kensington, as my previous post may have implied.
Adam Henry October 12, 2012 at 08:28 AM
While I will agree there are some real head in kiester drivers on our roadways, perhaps folks should takea step back and focus on the pedestrians for a moment. I regularly see pedestrians step into the street like they own it. I even had a fellow.tell me recently that he thought it was the law that vehicles had to stop for anyone WAITING to cross the street. Take the time to read the vehicle code, people. 21950(a) says the driver of a vehicle must yield to a pedestrian LAWFULLY CROSSING IN A CROSSWALK. Note that it does not say a driver has to yield to a.pedestrian standing near a crosswalk or waiting to step into a crosswalk. The vehicle code also says a.pedestrian may only cross when it is safe to do so. If a car is coming and isn't stopping, get this... IT IS NOT SAFE TO CROSS. If you're walking and you want to cross the street, don't just step out and expect the cars to stop for you. They are not required to stop until you have lawfully entered the crosswalk, and the 5000 pound car will win if you decide to press the issue. If anyone cares to brush up on traffic laws, take a look at www.leginfo.ca.gov and click on California Laws.
Dorothy Coakley October 12, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Yes, I agree. Pedestrians should only cross when its safe to do so. (Pedestrians are soft, cars are hard.) Crossing only in the crosswalk is important, too. (In my family, we joke that by using the crosswalk we will double the ante on the wrongful death lawsuit and thus make more money for our heirs.) But seriously, Kensington Circle has major visual impairments for both drivers and pedestrians. And its really *not* fair to presume that the person crossing has all of the acuity of the average unimpaired adult (human.) Just ain't so.
Eileen McNally October 12, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Yes Mr Henry, you're absolutely correct in your (somewhat snarky) statement: "The vehicle code also says a.pedestrian may only cross when it is safe to do so. If a car is coming and isn't stopping, get this... IT IS NOT SAFE TO CROSS. If you're walking and you want to cross the street, don't just step out and expect the cars to stop for you." And YES, I've seen extremely unobservant pedestrians very often when I'm behind the wheel. But what I'm trying to convey, along with others about THIS particular 'circle' is that it' never easy to know if it is safe to cross. As a pedestrian, you can be half-way across the crosswalk after making sure each 'spoke of the wheel' is clear. There might be a car at a complete stop on the other side of the big obstructive vegetation in the middle which is not visible as you set out. Then, since they don't have an arc to maneuver around, the drivers pick up speed immediately and don't see the pedestrians in the middle of the crosswalk on the other side of the obstructive vegetation in the middle. I've had to resort to hurling my groceries, purse, or anything in my hands just to survive the encounter.
Hoa Anonampour October 15, 2012 at 07:17 PM
This issue of people standing in crosswalks hoping that oncoming auto traffic will stop for them is insane. Forget who has the legal right. Does it matter once a pedestrian is struck by a moving car? I grew up on the East Coast where pedestrians also have the right of way in crosswalks. However, we were raised to look left, then right, then left again (in the direction of the first car that might hit us), then hurry across the street ONLY WHEN THERE WERE NO CARS IN THE AREA! If you're walking, what difference does it make if you wait an additional fraction of a second, or three or four seconds for a few cars to pass through an intersection? Teach your children how to be safe when crossing streets, not what the law says they're allowed to do.
Hoa Anonampour October 15, 2012 at 07:20 PM
A flag in the hand of any person walking across an intersection will never prevent an injury of a car hits the person. The best protection is never to walk in front of a moving car.


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