Mastodon East Canyon 22X Neighborhood Council: 1 Tip 4 U 2 B Safe …

1 Tip 4 U 2 B Safe …

A weekly tidbit to boost neighborhood safety and security

by Carol Van Steenberg

Take a Walk on the Mild Side

Living in Oakland’s East Canyon brings the joy of walking through vibrant neighborhoods, whether for errands, getting exercise, supporting a clean environment, or just plain fun. But do bring some caution along with your stroll. There’s a lot that walkers can do to stay safe. Here are tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This last lovely weekend my sister and I walked down Hoover to Fruitvale to Oaktoberfest and then back through Dimond Park and Oakmore Road. It was a beautiful walk. And we observed hazardous behavior! 

One woman meandered obliviously down the middle of Hoover with ear pods, stopping in the middle of the street, texting away. That narrow street connects two fairly heavily trafficked ones, Leimert Boulevard and Fruitvale. We called to her and she did not hear us. Yikes. Fortunately she crossed over to the sidewalk before a car came barreling down on her. I, too, was guilty of incaution and escaped. Bedazzled by many varieties of gorgeous dahlias planted together on Fruitvale, then charmed by a very old dog walking a kindly man, I failed to notice a “step” caused by tree roots having raised one piece of sidewalk and not the one ahead. That provided quite a jolt! It woke me up but did no harm. Streets around Macarthur were closed for Oaktoberfest, and that apparently frustrated some drivers. We saw a couple of “racers” dashing up the Lyman hill, making us glad we were cutting through the tranquil park. 

In 2021, 7,388 pedestrians were killed and more than 60,000 were injured in the U.S. In Oakland in 2022, 12 pedestrians lost their lives. So far this year, 11 pedestrians have died on Oakland’s streets. The City of Oakland has mapped 2022’s high injury corridors and identified where pedestrians (and other travelers) lost their lives.  You can view a thumbprint below and the real deal here:  

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has clear advice to reduce collisions between walkers and drivers. Some you already know, of course, but we all seem to need reminders:
  1. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  3. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right. Keep looking all directions as you cross.
  4. If no crosswalk or intersection is available, do this:  Locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
  5. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  6. Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
  7. In lowlight conditions (dawn, dusk) wear light-colored or reflective clothing. (Click here to see a local example.)
And what about walking with your phone, listening to a book or music, or checking messages? That distraction definitely impairs your abilities and your judgment! Pretty difficult to look and listen while busy on your phone. Earbuds block out traffic sounds. And texting while walking? Oh my. 

NHTSA has a handy walkability checklist and suggests you take some walks near where you live to assess various routes, with your child if you have one in your care. The checklist prompts you to rate five factors and add up your ratings to see how your neighborhood stacks up. In addition to an overall “quick health check” after the walk, you’ll  assess
  • Did you have room to walk?
  • Was it easy to cross streets?
  • Did drivers behave well?
  • Was it easy to follow safety rules?
  • Was your walk pleasant?
When you add up your score, you’ll get one of five results: “Celebrate! You have a great neighborhood for walking;” “Celebrate a little. Your neighborhood is pretty good;” “Okay, but it needs work;” “It needs lots of work—you  deserve better than that;” or “It's a disaster for walking!” Then there’s advice about what you can do to improve the situation— both immediate answers and long-term solutions.  

I’d say our particular path to and from the very festive Oaktoberfest scored as a great neighborhood for walking. It’s mostly a matter of us walkers needing to pay attention during our happy wandering!