Telegraph for People and Walk Bike Berkeley co-hosted a “die-in” protest Tuesday at the intersection of Hopkins Street and Monterey Avenue due to frustrations over Hopkins Street redesign delays.
The protest was also in remembrance of victims of traffic violence in Berkeley, according to a press release by Telegraph for People and Walk Bike Berkeley.
Purposefully held at the same time as the canceled special city council meeting to discuss the Hopkins Street redesigns, attendees consisted of elderly community members, parents, children and students. Protesters laid on the street, outlined themselves in chalk and held a moment of silence for Berkeley lives lost to traffic violence.
“Personally, I’ve witnessed several accidents,” said longtime Berkeley resident Gretchen Lemke. “I see more and more parents with young children bringing their kids to school on bikes, going grocery shopping, on their bikes and using this particular thoroughfare.”
Lemke noted that the city’s plans for adding protected bike lanes on Hopkins Street have been “two years in the making.”
Lemke said she wished the city would work toward redesigning Hopkins Street, promoting sustainable modes of transportation and following through on the 2019 Vision Zero plan, which pledged to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries on Berkeley streets by 2028.
Libby Lee-Egan, a protest attendee and mother of two children who reside on Hopkins Street, said she has advocated for the Vision Zero Plan since it was first announced and noted her desire for a quicker implementation of the plan.
Despite Lee-Egan and the community’s push for a quicker enactment of the Vision Zero plan, City Councilmember Rigel Robinson noted the public works department is facing a “severe” staffing shortage, which he said is an essential issue to solve as a first step in creating traffic safety in Berkeley.
Cecilia Lunaparra, UC Berkeley junior and organizer for Telegraph for People, also emphasized that the city’s staffing shortage is a significant issue.
Robinson’s referral for daylight intersections, which involve the restriction of on-street parking leading up to crosswalks to improve driver and pedestrian visibility, was recently approved by the city council.
“Daylighting will be an essential component of Berkeley’s tool kit to reach Vision Zero and eliminate traffic deaths citywide,” Robinson said in an email.
Lunaparra noted they were happy to see students and community members of all ages and ethnicities attend the protest and said the protesters were representative of Berkeley.
Going forward, Lunaparra said they plan to hold more protests and use various methods of civil disobedience to push the city to reduce traffic violence.
“I really hope that people don’t lose sight of this because it’s not just the street, it represents so much more,” Lunaparra said. “I hope that we will continue fighting for this. And we are, we are going to definitely continue.”