Oakland Streets Continue to Prove Dangerous for Pedestrians

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Urban areas like Oakland, California must accommodate heavy vehicle traffic as well as pedestrians and cyclists trying to move about the city. These vulnerable road users are at higher risk of injury or death and Oakland has seen an unfortunate number of pedestrian accidents in recent years.

While the primary mode of travel is by vehicle in Oakland, the second most chosen method is walking, with pedestrian foot traffic coming in at around 27%, according to studies. The high volume of vehicles traveling in the area makes it common for accidents to happen. Unfortunately, that number continues to rise, making it dangerous for people to walk around the streets of Oakland.

A recent analysis found over the past five years, 49.2 accidents have happened annually on average with 52 such incidents occurring in 2022. These accidents resulted in either injury or fatality. Older adults were found to be the most susceptible to pedestrian accidents in Oakland.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in Oakland

The problem exists for several reasons, including heavy traffic, poor lighting, distracted driving, and speeding. Older adults are vulnerable because of poor visibility, hearing issues, and a slower reaction time. Younger children are at high risk for these types of scenarios because their smaller bodies cannot take the impact of a vehicle, and continuing issues occur for them, including things like disruption from their school routine and psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

Making Streets Safer

In 2021, the Safe Oakland Streets (SOS) initiative was created to help recognize the problem, collect data, and devise solutions to prevent injuries and deaths for pedestrians in the Oakland area. The SOS includes the Department of Transportation (OakDOT), the City Administrator’s Office (CAO), the Oakland Police Department (OPD), and the Department of Race and Equity (DRE). This initiative will work to improve sidewalks, crosswalks, signaling, lighting and bike lanes as well as lowering speed limits in high use areas.

A walking person has no protection against a large moving vehicle, so when traveling on foot, it’s important to remember how to do so safely. Several suggestions for making a trip on foot without incident include using the designated crosswalks, avoid using phones or other distracting devices, wearing reflective clothing, especially at night, and being more alert to the surroundings.

While crashes between pedestrians and vehicles continue to be disproportionate to other areas, it’s important to remember to stay vigilant when walking in Oakland. The SOS team will continue to work on resolving the issue through transparent monitoring and continuous improvements to the city streets.