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El Cerrito Officials: More People on Greenway Make it Safer

Improvements in recent years have been aimed at enticing more people to use the trail.

While El Cerrito officials say that safety measures like surveillance cameras and police bicycle patrols help reduce crime on the Ohlone Greenway, people using the trail in large numbers for commuting and recreation is equally important in making the corridor safe. 

"The more of the right kind of people who are on the Greenway, the fewer of the wrong kind of people will be there, said Melanie Minz, the city's environmental services division manager, who helped develop the Ohlone Greenway master plan. 

In 2007, consultants hired by BART counted and surveyed the people on the El Cerrito portion of the Greenway on five days at five locations. The consultants counted 2,940 people and surveyed 154 individuals. [See graphs attached to the post for results.]

At a time when the Greenway saw more violent crime than it does now, the consultants found that the pathway was well-used: 

During the weekend, recreational trips made by local residents dominate usage of the greenway. Bicycles are the preferred mode of travel during this period. During the weekday, trips between home and work are the majority of trips and there is a pronounced [morning] peak between 8 am and 9 am Walking is the preferred mode of travel during this period. School field trips, including class bicycle rides, boost pathway usage during weekday afternoon. 

Minz said that many safety elements of the Ohlone Greenway master plan have been put in place, including new LED lights and widening the trail, while others remain unfinished. The city has had to coordinate its work with BART's retrofitting project.  

What do you think? Is the Ohlone Greenway better than it was five years ago?

John Stashik February 01, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Bike patrols work. However, our busy cops have more than the BART path to look after. More people actually using the path do enhance safety. Still, the drunks that hang out by Blake (on the trail or next to the Santa Fe bridge) are not a welcome sight. Then there are the winos that once camped by the tot lot behind the former Safeway. Not what we need in town. People sleeping along the greenway overnight are an inappropriate use of the trail. Likewise, for the continued use of the trail as an outdoor restroom by a significant number of lowlifes. No maintenance means six-foot tall weeds lining the route south of Stockton, a hazard for sure. It's a trail where one must keep alert to stay safe. Detour to a side street when something doesn't look right. More video surveillance was in the plan following BART's work; it would help. Make the people who cannot conform to laws and decency while on the trail feel unwelcome.
George McRae February 01, 2013 at 07:52 PM
May I also add...... when a city official makes comments about "right kind of people" compared to the "wrong kind of people" you open yourself up to some VERY interesting questions. What in fact are the differences in these categories of people? Careful, now.......We wouldn't want the city to be accused of "profiling" now, would we?
Charles G February 01, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Crime statistics for a CLOSED TRAIL - not very helpful. Let's look at the statistics after the greenway has been opened for a few months. In the meantime, please help our wonderful EC Police by tipping them off on any suspicious activity or people hanging out (aka loitering) because the best defense is a good offense! We need to work this together.
David Britt February 02, 2013 at 01:06 AM
I don't think any link to race is intended, but I agree that it's poor form to imply that some people are inherently the "wrong" type to take part in a public space. Perhaps a better wording would be that a greater presence would ensure that more people are doing the right kind of things. More of all kinds of people would be the ideal outcome, right?
Kathy A. February 03, 2013 at 12:27 AM
There are some useful comments here! The crime stats show that incidents on the greenway are rare, many fewer than in past years (even before the retrofit). More traffic is going to help keep things safe, and so is having things going on by the trails, and reducing shrubbery that might hide activity from nearby places. And more bike patrols. We only have so many officers, but near the path are other areas where bikes may be more useful than patrol cars -- for example, the plaza and surrounding blocks, nearby schools, Del Norte, the business strips along Stockton and upper Fairmount. Bikes have an advantage where cars can't fit or can only move slowly. It's true that portions of the trail have been closed because of the BART retrofit project. I'd be interested in more information about safety features in the plans. (For example, more cameras; more lighting; replanting with low-profile greenery.)


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