A vigil was held Tuesday for William Evans, who was killed by a truck driver while crossing Bancroft Way at Shattuck Avenue in his wheelchair.
Evans was 72 at the time of his death. The vigil, which was held at the site of the accident, was organized in a joint effort by Walk Bike Berkeley, Senior & Disability Action, the Traffic Violence Rapid Response Team and Telegraph for People, or TFP.
“William’s death, like the daily injuries on Berkeley’s streets, was preventable,” reads a flier handed out at the vigil.
Evans was also hit by a car a few years ago on University Avenue near the food bank, according to Judy Jackson, one of Evans’ neighbors.
Jackson noted Evans broke several of his ribs in the collision. Jackson added Evans was a marine veteran and had both his legs amputated above the knee due to service-related injuries.
“People all the time are injured in our streets and we don’t hear about it because they don’t die,” said Oakland resident Max Davis.
Davis himself was hit by a car in South Berkeley 10 years ago and in Oakland hills six months ago.
Samuel Greenberg, the president of TFP, said these vigils are important to humanize victims who would normally be “turned into a statistic.”
Greenberg noted such collisions could be prevented in the future by creating safer bike and pedestrian infrastructure such as protected crosswalks and bike lanes, and by narrowing corners to slow drivers down.
“This moment is a reminder to all of us of how much more work we still need to do and how unsafe our streets still are for residents of all modes, wheelchair users especially,” said Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson at the event.
Robinson, himself a daily biker, said it was important to make streets safer to both allow “freedom of mobility” and reduce carbon emissions.
Robinson said passing Measure L on the Berkeley ballot will allow the city to access the funding needed to enact recommendations from the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Vision Zero plans.
“The way that traffic engineers decide whether the road is working or not is ‘can the car get there faster?’,” said George Spies of Traffic Violence Rapid Response.
The chances of surviving a collision with a car going under 20 mph are high, while the chances of surviving a similar collision with a car going 40 mph are much lower, according to Spies.
Berkeley City Council candidate Mark Humbert, who attended the vigil, said “daylighting” intersections by prohibiting parking near them could help reduce traffic collisions, pointing to Hoboken, New Jersey’s success with this strategy.
Jessica Lehman, a representative from Senior & Disability Action and a wheelchair user, advocated for extending the sidewalk with “bulbouts” and providing more crossing time, as well as making sure all crossings have countdowns and user-friendly chirp signals. She added that delivery companies need to pay their drivers more so that they aren’t forced to block crosswalks or double-park in order to meet tight deadlines.
“If you can’t get across your street safely then you don’t feel comfortable going anywhere, and that’s not good for any of us,” Lehman said.