Moving beyond Vision Zero to protect the public

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This year, I’ve been interning at YLabs, a public health nonprofit that operates at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Woolsey Street in Berkeley. And while we work inside our office every Monday through Friday to reduce health inequities around the world, it is hard not to notice the public health and safety hazard right outside our door. 

The intersection between Shattuck Avenue and Woolsey Street is extremely dangerous for everyone involved: pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Every day, my coworkers and I cross the street to get to the bus stop or grab a coffee. And every day, I can attest to the fact that I simply do not feel safe crossing at the crosswalk where cars are going 30-40 mph. 

The intersection is a two-way stop with no measure in place to keep pedestrians safe while crossing Shattuck. We’ve called 911 more than once. It seems like at least once a month we hear the screech of car tires and then the inevitable crunch of metal before running outside to make sure everyone is alright. 

I admire the Vision Zero plan for its long-term goal in making Berkeley safer, but we cannot afford to wait until 2028 — people are getting hurt in our streets every single day. The intersection outside our street needs attention now, and so do many others throughout this city. Whether that means more stop signs, a traffic light or better pedestrian walkways, the city has to do something. Nobody should feel unsafe crossing the street.

Nishi Rahman is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying biology and political science.