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Map: Where Would You Improve the Ohlone Greenway?

Readers suggested security cameras and pruning overgrown shrubbery. Click the "Add" button on the map to share your suggestions.

A shooting last week on the Ohlone Greenway sparked suggestions from readers about ways the pathway could be made safer. The ideas included installing video cameras and clearing overgrown vegetation along the trail.  

Here's a comment from a reader named Debbie: "That is a total drug magnet area. The benches in the park adjacent have all kinds of drug paraphernalia litter. Crack vials, blunt wrappers, alcohol bottles etc. Clear cut the tall vegetation on the path, get rid of the benches and make the park a fenced community garden and it will make a difference. Also put a camera on this stretch. It is my understanding that the Bart path is a favored gang initiation territory for high school kids. So the solution is to make it crime proof. This is possible guys. There are landscapers that specialize in crime detecting design. It will be worth the money. And solvable- remember this is targeted crime as well not random or psychotic." 

I called the El Cerrito Police Department Tuesday morning to see what they thought about security cameras and trimming vegetation as ways to make the greenway safer. I'll add their comments when and if I receive them. 

Thomas Laxar January 30, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Agressive cleanup of gang tags on the pillars would help. It might even be possible to set up citizen patrols who could paint them out daily. The tags mark the area as belonging to the gangs. Leaving the tags on the pillars encourages that understanding and possibly provokes violent gang territorial conflicts.
Alex Gronke (Editor) January 30, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Thanks for the suggestions Thomas. Another commenter wrote by email to propose this: It would help to have BICYCLE OFFICERS patrol frequently at the Ohlone Greenway from Albany, El Cerrito, to Richmond.
Zack M. January 30, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Great suggestion about bike cops. I think that would improve safety in areas other than the Greenway, too. Officers on bicycles will be more likely to notice fishy things going on because you're way more aware of your situation on a bike - not enclosed in a steel and glass cage. Added bonus - health insurance should be cheaper as well since all the officers will be in tip-top shape from biking around!
Barbara Bennett January 30, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Patrols by officers is the only way to assure that gangs and other malcontents leave the area. The more patrols the better, bikes on the greenway, patrol cars to cruise the nearby streets. It is shameful that our kids and others cannot use this beautiful space safely.
Auntie JPEG January 30, 2013 at 11:10 PM
You can start the tag/graffiti clean-up in El Cerrito today by taking a photo with your cellphone & posting it to a report to the public works website. They have been very responsive to communicating, writing work orders, and identifying other agencies when it is not in El Cerrito's jurisdiction. This is why the photo is important at time of reporting. I have experimenting with both direct reports to webpage and using an general fix it app. Direct report is far better. The address is: http://el-cerrito.org/requesttracker.aspx
Auntie JPEG January 30, 2013 at 11:14 PM
We only have so many BICYCLE OFFICERS to patrol. What about supplementing them with a volunteer citizens watch group to patrol at least every hour, and radio/call in problems to the local police?
Frank Ocean January 30, 2013 at 11:50 PM
I have seen the painting contractor on the path numerous times and the city is very agressive about cleaning the tags off of the pillers. Most of it is just "tags" it not gang land marking. If you have not noticed the entire length of the path is under construction and will be retro fitted and a new wider path is being put back inplace of the old damaged path. It has been a long time coming and still has a ways to go before it is completed but Im sure we will see a much safer path and greenway when it is done,.
Beckie January 31, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Having more uses along the pathway could help too as it would bring more regular pedestrian traffic, and therefore more eyes to deter crime. Now that I have a dog, I frequent the dog park at the path at Potrero. It feels safe to me because it had good visibility to the streets but some of the vegetation could still be trimmed back. I never walk along the Ohlone path in general because it feels very unsafe with all the overgrown vegetation so cutting all that back is a great idea. (In the past, I had a scare with homeless people that were hanging out on the path.) The new wide path on the block by Safeway is great. Much better than the path before and I felt safe for the first time along that stretch so I actually did walk it. I think its better too that it is not directly under the BART tracks but off to the side. Maybe some emergency phones could be placed along the path as well.
Ken & Molly January 31, 2013 at 04:47 AM
I like all the suggestions mentioned before me, in particular a community garden. Have some raised beds and have the neighborhood join to plant some edibles or pretty flowers.
Ira Sharenow January 31, 2013 at 05:05 AM
It looks like some of the shrubbery by the BART path and behind the library is being removed. I asked the El Cerrito police chief for data on violent crime. A member of her staff provided the following information in a timely manner. I put all of the incidents into an Excel spreadsheet in order to summarize the data. robbery 55 battery 7 rape 1 Summaries Year 2008 33 2009 14 2010 8 2011 6 2012 2 Total 63 Month Count 1 8 2 5 3 2 4 5 5 5 6 1 7 2 8 9 9 8 10 10 11 2 12 6 Total 63 Hour 0 0 1 0 2 2 3 0 4 0 5 0 6 0 7 0 8 2 9 2 10 2 11 2 12 2 13 3 14 6 15 6 16 5 17 5 18 4 19 8 20 7 21 4 22 1 23 2 Total 63
Al Miller January 31, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Another danger on the Ohlone Greenway is from automobiles at every street-Greenway intersection. Adequate sightlines for motorists to be able to see pedestrians and bikers approaching the crosswalks are needed. Landscaping installed at every such intersection should be low level to maintain visibility and reduce maintenance costs. Bikers need to show self discipline and slow down at each intersection. Drivers need to show defensive driving and slow down at each intersection. In many parts of our city it is not unusual to see the signs, "Drive like your kids lived here!" Drivers approaching the Greenway intersections should "Drive like your kids are about to dash out from the greenway into the street ahead of your car!" If we all drove like we should and walked and bikes like we should, we would all be much safer.
Robert Smith January 31, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Some fake video cameras might help.
Ross January 31, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Along the lines of making the greenway more active, introduce limited retail activity: small snack stands every 1/2 mile with outdoor seating.
Alex Gronke (Editor) February 01, 2013 at 04:11 AM
http://elcerrito.patch.com/articles/el-cerrito-stretch-of-ohlone-greenway-saw-huge-drop-in-violent-crime-since-2008

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