CalWalks-SafeTREC report promotes safer streets for El Cerrito and Richmond Annex
A new report from California Walks and the University of California Safe Transportation and Education Center (SafeTREC) highlights strategies to promote safer streets in El Cerrito and Richmond Annex, especially for slowing down traffic and making pedestrian- and bike-friendly improvements on San Pablo Avenue, Central Avenue, Carlson Avenue, and Cutting Boulevard.
“El Cerrito and Richmond Annex Summary and Recommendations Report” is the culmination of a workshop convened on July 25 by the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program (CPBST), a project of California Walks and SafeTREC. After a 2-month planning process, about 35 participants met virtually, including residents, and representatives from the El Cerrito Strollers & Rollers, Richmond Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committees, the cities of El Cerrito and Richmond, West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers, and others.
The goals of the CPBST workshop were to improve walking and biking safety between El Cerrito and the Richmond Annex area; encourage more people to walk, bike, and use public transportation; and create a shared community vision with neighbors.
Street safety overview
The focus area included all of El Cerrito and Richmond Annex, from the hills to the Bay Trail. The workshop planners and participants decided to join forces with Richmond Annex in recognition that despite their close proximity, residents of both communities face significant challenges with safely accessing transit, services, and amenities on both sides of San Pablo by foot or bicycle.
Likewise, crash data compiled for the workshop by SafeTREC showed that while bicycle and pedestrian crashes steadily declined between 2011 and 2020, both communities have significant work to do to eliminate safety risks to walkers and bikes.
|Crash overview for El Cerrito and Richmond Annex, 2016-2020. Source: Statewide Integrated Traffic Record System 2016–2019; 2020 data provisional as of as of June 2022.
Per the California Office of Traffic Safety’s Crash Rankings, El Cerrito ranked 69th out of 103 cities of similar population size for people killed or injured in a traffic crash in 2019; and Richmond ranked 15th out of 59 cities of similar population size for people killed or injured in a traffic crash. A number one ranking would be the worst. Of note:
Between 2016 and 2020, 43 bicycle crashes occurred in the focus area, concentrated on Central Avenue (14 crashes), San Pablo Avenue (7 crashes), and Carlson Boulevard (7 crashes). During the same 5-year period, 80 pedestrian crashes occurred with 2 fatalities; these were concentrated on San Pablo (25 crashes), Cutting (20 crashes), and Carlson (14 crashes).
El Cerrito ranked 14th out of 103 cities for senior pedestrians killed and injured; and Richmond ranked 4th out of 59 cities for crashes where a person between the ages of 21 and 34 had been drinking.
For pedestrian crashes, the primary factor (42%) was drivers not yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians at marked or unmarked crosswalks; and for bicycle crashes the primary factor was cyclists riding in the opposite direction on the roadway as motor vehicles, followed by drivers not yielding the right-of-way to cyclists at stop signs or when exiting or entering a highway.
In both communities, the report noted driving is the primary way that residents get to work. The largest commute pattern outside of solo drives to work for both El Cerrito and Richmond Annex is taking public transportation (26% and 21%, respectively). Only 2% of El Cerritans bike to work and 1% walk, while in Richmond Annex just 3% walk to work and 1% bike. These low figures suggests El Cerrito/Richmond Annex residents perceive conditions as more dangerous than the crash data suggests, or that certain barriers that can be corrected are holding back the potential for walking and bicycling such as San Pablo and Carlson.
According to Esri Community Analyst data, 10% of all households in El Cerrito and Richmond Annex did not own a personal vehicle in 2022. “This is a very high percentage of people who are challenged to safely access retail and services, which in our area is mostly on auto-dominated San Pablo Avenue,” says Steve Price of El Cerrito Strollers & Rollers.
CPBST uses the Safe System Approach to engage residents and safety advocates to develop a community-driven action plan to improve walking and biking safety in their communities and to strengthen collaboration with local officials and agency staff.
The report includes several recommendations for improving pedestrian and bicycle safety in El Cerrito and Richmond Annex, from the hills to the bay:
1. Slow down and improve driver behavior on San Pablo Avenue.
2. Implement a safety messaging campaign on San Pablo Avenue and Central Avenue.
3. Incentivize economic development along San Pablo to support safe bicycle and pedestrian access.
4. Prioritize pedestrian and bike safety in El Cerrito Plaza.
5. Improve access to the Sacramento Street pedestrian bridge over I-80.
6. Install infrastructure to improve bicycling safety near freeway ramp intersections at I-80 and I-580.
7. Host an open street event on a street that intersects San Pablo Avenue much like the Off the Grid events on Fairmount Avenue.
8. Create quick-build project programs to bring low-cost safety improvements sooner, rather than later.
9. Use surveys to collect community feedback on safety concerns.
The workshop and subsequent report were facilitated by Marina Ramirez, Jacqueline Garcia, and Alma Leyva of California Walks; and Kristen Leckie and Garrett Fortin of SafeTREC.
El Cerrito Strollers & Rollers applied for a grant from CalWalks and SafeTREC to conduct the workshop. The planning committee included Janet Byron, Laura Maurer, Carrie Hobbs Schulman, and Steve Price of El Cerrito Strollers & Rollers; Laura Lent of El Cerrito Trail Trekkers; Al Miller of El Cerrito Library Foundation; Rose Vekony of El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee; Yvetteh Ortiz, director of El Cerrito Public Works; Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond District 5 Councilmember; and Patrick Phelan of City of Richmond Public Works.
— Janet Byron