Telegraph Avenue, a street spanning from Sather Gate to Oakland, has had an increase in safety issues due to its poor pavement conditions.
Telegraph for People, a student group involved in transportation advocacy work, was founded by former UC Berkeley students Sam Greenberg and Brandon Yung. The group promotes a car-free reconstruction on Telegraph Avenue. President Rebecca Mirvish said the street, along with 33 other streets, is considered “high-injury” in Berkeley.
“I do know from personal experience walking on Telegraph, especially the areas between Dwight and the Oakland border, that the street was really really bad,” said Grayson Savoie, the external affairs director for the group.
The paint on several crosswalks along Telegraph is chipped off, reducing visibility and increasing the possibility of danger, Savoie added.
The pavement condition index, or PCI, averages 31.2 out of 100 for all parts of Telegraph, one of the lowest among all “high-injury” streets in Berkeley, according to an email from Mirvish. The city of Berkeley’s 2020 pavement report states that a PCI of 31.2 lies on the border between conditions defined as “poor” and “failed.”
According to the report, Berkeley’s roads require a $120 million total investment over five years to raise the system’s PCI from 57 to 62. If no maintenance is done during this time, the PCI of the roads will drop from 57 to 47. Because of this, a PCI of 31.2 implies under-investment in Telegraph’s maintenance.
The cost of street paving increases exponentially with time, Mirvish added.
“Road repairs across Berkeley have unfortunately been underfunded for some time,” said Mark Humbert, a Berkeley city council member, in an email. “The resulting citywide deterioration of our roads is why I’m working with my colleagues to secure more dedicated funding to make our roads safer for all users.”
Humbert believes that vehicles, the latest date of repavement and various environmental factors cause different segments of Telegraph Avenue to differ in condition. However, he claimed that every block of Telegraph Avenue requires maintenance.
Berkeley’s Vision Zero Action Plan, an initiative to reduce traffic injuries on the streets by applying engineering solutions, noted Telegraph as a prime location of severe injury for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Approximately 91% of severe and fatal collisions occur on 16% of Berkeley streets, Telegraph Avenue being one of them, the plan noted.
“Cyclists and pedestrians are most at risk of injury from poor roadway conditions,” Humbert said in the email. “If people feel less comfortable riding or walking along Telegraph, they may be less likely to visit and patronize Telegraph Avenue merchants.”
Humbert has a positive attitude regarding Telegraph for People’s plan for a car-free Telegraph. The plan, Mirvish claims, would promise safety, reduce air pollution, limit sound emission and benefit local businesses.
A bus lane will be added to ensure that delivery vehicles can reach local stores, Mirvish added, to resolve a concern raised by store owners like Anawin Juntanamalaga, owner of Ink Stone, an art supply store located along Telegraph.
“(I am) confident that we can find money for it, but it’ll take some time,” Mirvish said. “We’re confident it’ll happen. It’s just about a request.”