Your definitive guide to UC Berkeley’s night safety services

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Nathaniel Solley/File

While night life in an urban environment such as Berkeley can be exciting, crime around campus is inevitable. As much as we would all like to believe we’re immune to this crime, we could all benefit from admitting our vulnerability and being a little more cautious when walking home alone at night. It’s important to be aware of the methods that can help us gain a bit of protection from the sketchy Berkeley streets. You may think many of these resources and tactics seem inefficient and inconvenient (most of them can be), but they can be useful if your wallet and life are potentially at stake. If you’d rather keep your paranoid friends and over-protective family free from anxiety, here are some free options you can use to get home safely (though there are definitely more possibilities we haven’t listed here).

BearWALK

What: BearWALK is a night safety service where UC Berkeley student escorts walk you to your destination. To use this service, visit this website or call (510) 642-9255, and request a walker. If you have a great experience with your walker, you can always request that BearWALK-er again. Check this service’s boundaries here.

Pro: The escorts are generally amiable and they’re also likely to be extremely good-looking. Waiting for your BearWALK escort is basically like waiting to meet a blind date, except it’s 100 percent free.

Con: There’s a possibility that you could be waiting upward of 20 minutes for an escort, depending on the time you request your walk. It’s a good resource if you have a safe place to wait, but not ideal for every situation. Also, sometimes it may be difficult to locate your BearWALK-er when they’re waiting for you.

Clog tip: Awkward small talk is pretty much inevitable no matter how much you or your escort try to mitigate it. Make sure you’re prepared to answer his or her first question, which is always, “How’s your night going?”

Door-to-door service

What: From 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., this night safety shuttle will drive you directly to your destination. Check this for a list of the service’s boundaries, and request your ride by calling (510) 642-9255 or visiting this website.

Pro: This is basically a safer, more efficient, and less awkward BearWALK. Enjoy a quick nap on the comfy seats of this heated van after a long night of social and/or academic stimulation.

Con: This service only runs for two hours in the middle of the night, and at that point, your delirious conscience might end up deciding to wait to go back home until morning anyway. The driver is also not a student and probably not empathetic to your drunk and/or sleep-deprived self at this hour.

Clog tip: Make sure you catch your shuttle when it arrives, because if you wait too long, it will leave without you.

Night safety shuttle

What: Running every half-hour from 7:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., this extension of Bear Transit’s daytime service will take you to and from specific locations around campus.

Pro: It stops at all residence halls on all sides of campus. There are drop-off points at convenient locations for students not living in dorms as well. You’ll likely be riding with several other UC Berkeley students so feel free to make a new friend or just silently recover from your draining 10-hour day on campus.

Con: It operates on a set route, does not honor off-route requests and only goes in one direction. So if you don’t live near one of the stops, you have to walk the remaining distance from the stop to your home, which could potentially defeat the purpose of taking the shuttle in the first place.

Clog tip: Make sure you check the time the shuttle is coming so you can avoid waiting for excessive amounts of time. Find the schedule here.

Companion app

What: This app allows your friends to keep track of your whereabouts while you’re walking by yourself and notifies them when you’ve safely reached your destination.

Pro: It’s comforting to know that people are aware of where you are in case you feel unsafe at any point on your walk home. They can check on you from the safety of their own homes, and this makes everyone you’re connected to feel more comfortable. 

Con: You don’t know that your friends are actually paying attention to the app or to the notifications it sends. It’s also pretty useless in helping you avoid dangerous situations — it’s more of a resource for your peace of mind rather than for your protection.

Clog tip: Make sure you keep your companions updated so they don’t worry about your safety.

Walking behind strangers

What: This is not an official safety service, but it’s still our favorite method of getting home. (But real talk, use this as a last resort.)

Pro: If you have no friends and need a group of people to walk with, you can trail just behind a group that seems to be walking in the same direction as you are. It may sound like a desperate measure, but it’s better than nothing. 

Con: They can hear your footsteps and see your shadow behind them and you look (and feel) like a pursuer.

Clog tip: Make sure not to breathe too heavily, or they might run away frantically and leave you with no one to follow. 

Contact Jasmine Tatah at [email protected].