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El Cerrito Has Higher Rate of Injuries to Pedestrians and Bicyclists Than County Average

UC Berkeley this month unveiled a new online, searchable database and mapping system for traffic collisions in California that caused serious injury or death.

UC Berkeley's new online traffic injury database shows that El Cerrito has a much highter rate of injury-causing traffic collisions that involve pedestrians and cyclists than the average for Contra Costa County.

Around 47 percent of crashes in the city resulting in injury between 2000 and 2008 included a pedestrian or bicycle collision compared to 26 percent countywide. The biggest cause of traffic collisions resulting in injury in El Cerrito (18 percent) were was violating the pedestrian right-of-way.

Albany next door also has a higher rate of injury-causing traffic collisions that involve pedestrians and cyclists than the average for Alameda County. Around 43 percent of crashes resulting in injury between 2000 and 2008 included a pedestrian or bicycle collision compared to 30 percent countywide. The leading causes of  traffic collisions resulting in injury were violating the pedestrian right-of-way (20 percent) and driving under the influence of of alcohol or drugs (20 percent).

These and many other traffic-injury statistics are now accessible to the public online with this month's launch of the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) from UC Berkeley. The database project, begun in 2003 at UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, includes collision data from 2000 to 2008, with customizable maps detailing the location, circumstances and level of injury for each traffic accident.

The data shows that in the three East Bay counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano between 2000 and 2008, there were an average of 910 injury-causing traffic crashes per year, or 2.5 per day.

 Alameda County had the highest number of injury-causing crashes, at an average of 479 per year, followed by Contra Costa County at 288 on average per year. Solano County experienced an average of 144 injury-causing traffic collisions each year.

 In the East Bay, around 20 percent of these crashes resulted in death. The causes for road deaths and injuries between 2000 and 2008 can be attributed to three main causes: driving at an unsafe speed, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and “improper turning.”

Alameda County racked up the most crashes resulting in death or serious injury with a total of 4,310 in the nine-year data span. Of that number, 20 percent involved speeding and 19 percent involved alcohol or drugs.

During the same period in Contra Costa County, 22 percent of accidents with injuries involved alcohol or drugs, and 19 percent were caused by speeding.

Around 21 percent of injury-causing accidents in Solano County involved speeding, with 20 percent caused by “improper turning” and 19 percent involving driving intoxicated.

The fatality rate in the three counties is highest in Solano at 27 percent, followed by Contra Costa County and 22 percent and Alameda County at 20 percent.

A detailed breakdown for El Cerrito and Contra Costa County can be found below.

EL CERRITO:

Collision Severity

 

 

Factor

Number

Percent

Severe Injury

39

80%

Fatality

10

20%

TOTAL

49

100%

 

 

Pedestrian Collision

20

41%

Bicycle Collision

3

6%

Motorcycle Collision

6

12%

Truck Collision

2

4%

 

 

Factor

Number

Percent

Unknown

1

2%

Driving or Bicycling Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drug

8

16%

Impeding Traffic

0

0%

Unsafe Speed

4

8%

Following Too Closely

0

0%

Wrong Side of Road

0

0%

Improper Passing

0

0%

Unsafe Lane Change

3

6%

Improper Turning

5

10%

Automobile Right of Way

2

4%

Pedestrian Right of Way

9

18%

Pedestrian Violation

8

16%

Traffic Signals and Signs

4

8%

Hazardous Parking

0

0%

Lights

0

0%

Brakes

0

0%

Other Equipment

0

0%

Other Hazardous Violation

1

2%

Other Than Driver (or Pedestrian)

2

4%

Unsafe Starting or Backing

0

0%

Other Improper Driving

2

4%

Pedestrian or "Other" Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drug

0

0%

Fell Asleep

0

0%

Not Stated

0

0%

Others

0

0%

TOTAL

49

100%

 

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY 2000 - 2008:

 

 

Collision Severity

 

 

Factor

Number

Percent

Severe Injury

2025

78%

Fatality

570

22%

TOTAL

2595

100%

 

 

Pedestrian Collision

455

18%

Bicycle Collision

204

8%

Motorcycle Collision

442

17

Truck Collision

94

4%

 

Factor

Number

Percent

Unknown

120

5%

Driving or Bicycling Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drug

576

22%

Impeding Traffic

0

0%

Unsafe Speed

490

19%

Following Too Closely

5

0%

Wrong Side of Road

137

5%

Improper Passing

21

1%

Unsafe Lane Change

79

3%

Improper Turning

370

14%

Automobile Right of Way

189

7%

Pedestrian Right of Way

100

4%

Pedestrian Violation

194

7%

Traffic Signals and Signs

146

6%

Hazardous Parking

3

0%

Lights

0

0%

Brakes

0

0%

Other Equipment

5

0%

Other Hazardous Violation

24

1%

Other Than Driver (or Pedestrian)

64

2%

Unsafe Starting or Backing

22

1%

Other Improper Driving

25

1%

Pedestrian or "Other" Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drug

10

0%

Fell Asleep

15

1%

Not Stated

0

0%

Others

0

0%

TOTAL

2595

100%


Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that most of the traffic collisions involving serious injury in El Cerrito were caused by violating the pedestrian right of way. Violating the pedestrian right of way was the leading cause, responsible for 18 percent of such accidents. The story also incorrectly reported that most injury-causing accidents in Albany were caused violating the pedestrian right-of-way or driving under the influence of of alcohol or drugs. Those two factors were the leading causes, each responsible for 20 percent of the collisions. The story has been corrected.

Steve April 13, 2011 at 02:51 PM
I'm not sure these stats are being presented correctly. Although it would be correct to say that of the injury-collisions in El Cerrito, the most prominent type involves pedestrians it is not correct to then say that we have a "much higher rate" of such collisions. If a city had a sterling record of 4 injury collisions in that 9-year period of which 3 involved bicycles and 1 involved a car the interpretation shouldn't be that at 75% of injury accidents the city has a far worse bicycle collision rate. Getting comparative stats is tricky - a couple common measures are accidents per 1000-vehicle-miles or based on population. They also try to compare similar types of road. 1000 miles on I5 is a lot different than 1000 miles in downtown San Francisco and I bet there are almost no pedestrian or bicycle accidents on I5. Unfortunately the State stats site doesn't list El Cerrito and I don't have access to TIMS so it would be great if the author could go back and get some real info on how El Cerrito compares on a per-mile-driven and/or population basis.
Ginger Cava April 13, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Just try walking from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station (on Ohlone Way) to the parking lot across Central Avenue and you can see why. The bicyclists whistle by pedestrians full force, NEVER stop at the designated stop sign before crossing Central Avenue and create a danger to pedestrians and automobiles alike. It is horrible to see the violations daily, especially at commuter time. There are verbal altercations from time to time between bicyclists and pedestians because the bicyclists go by so fast that if one was to take a step to the left or right an accident would occur. Somehow they (the cyclists) think they have the right of way. Many tickets would be issued daily if it was paid attention to I am sorry to say.
Charles Burress (Editor) April 13, 2011 at 07:27 PM
You raise some excellent points and help illustrate how statistics can be misleading. El Cerrito's higher rate, compared to the county rates, of injury-causing collisions involving bicyclists and collisions involving pedestrians, could certainly be explained by a variety of factors, such as a greater concentration of bicyclists and pedestrians. They don't paint a good picture of the relative danger of bicycling or walking in the city. This article was mainly intended to introduce the new online mapping system from Cal to our readers, and we would like at some point to do a more detailed analysis. By the way, you or any other member of the public with Internet access can access the TIMS site by simply registering. It's free.
Larry Craighill April 13, 2011 at 11:30 PM
And yet, the map shows no accidents there, and only one of each, pedestrian and bicycle along the entire Ohlone Way through the city. That's not to say that your point isn't well taken. It is. What I do glean from this map however is the concentration of pedestrian accidents along San Pablo Ave, which we all know is a by-pass (and an old old highway) which I-80 users take to avoid heavy traffic from time to time. Since this study was performed, the greening of this corridor has been undertaken. I would be interested to see how this improves the safety there. Planted islands provide an escape for pedestrians who have close calls with vehicles, and the corridors can also have the effect of slowing down the traffic. Visually, it looks more like two separate two lane sections rather than a single four lane section.
Kyle April 14, 2011 at 01:37 AM
While the behavior you describe is not excusable, it is incorrect to make a blanket statement that all bicyclists do this and that all never stop at the stop sign. Plus, I rarely see any cyclists riding by at "full force' when there are pedestrians there. Though I'm sure there are some, just as there are inconsiderate people in any crowd (or mode of transportation) I suspect these are just more noticable. I'd also like to point out that there are two separate paths along the greenway: one for cyclists, one for pedestrians, clearly designated. Pedestrians are almost always on the designated bike path, seldom on the walking path, from my experience. Mostly this seems to work OK, but I would also think that someone knowingly walking on the bike path should expect to be passed by bicycles (who should be considerate when they do pass). "Can't we just all get along"?
Steve April 14, 2011 at 03:42 AM
Larry and Kyle make good points. As a cyclist, motorist and pedestrian I've seen bad behavior in all groups. Fortunately they are the minority in all groups but they leave an impression that the courteous majority does not. Based on the counts, bicycles are involved in a serious injury accident about once every three years - and having recently watched CalStar medivac a cyclist injured in a collision with a car I'll guess that the cyclist is the loser in most collisions. I, too, have noticed that while the pedestrian and bike portions of the greenway are clearly marked, it is rare indeed that I see pedestrians on the pedestrian side - the vast majority are on the bike side. And often pedestrians are walking side by side completely blocking the path. While I don't condone reckless riding, pedestrians walking in the middle of a bike path have no more reason to complain than someone who chooses the middle of the street instead of the sidewalk can complain about all the cars going by.
Bryce Nesbitt July 14, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Consider a city where nobody walks or bikes: you'd expect that 0% of the collisions involve a pedestrian or cyclist. Now take the opposite: a city with 99.9999% pedestrians but only one car: you'd expect that if that car ever crashed, it would crash into a pedestrian. All this data tells us is that more people walk and bike in El Cerrito.
Antonio July 24, 2012 at 08:32 PM
From all the comments listed before, you can conclude that El Cerrito is a very active community where people walk and bike and also use wheelchairs. Increasingly you see families walking together and parents pushing strollers along the streets and pathways. Many also walk their pets and go jogging with them. In our area we have cats that come to visit families a couple of blocks away and then go back home after they spend quality time with their guests. What is important to note is that the city needs to take this into account and take a more proactive role in implementing traffic measures to protect its citizens, pets included. So far we do not see much of this taking place. Cars speed along residential zones, no stop signs are posted or speed bumps are deployed. Maybe statistical data can be misleading and presented to fit one’s needs but who needs to see someone injured to realize that this is a serious issue.

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