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unconventional crosswalk strategy to help Chinatown's older pedestrians
One area where
improvements could have a significant impact on the safety of older
pedestrians is Oakland's Chinatown, which has a high concentration of
older residents who make an unusually large number of trips on foot,
compared to other older populations and the population at large.
In April of
this year, the city installed an experimental pedestrian scramble at
one Chinatown intersection, the corner of 8th and Webster Sts. A scramble
gives pedestrians exclusive access to an intersection by stopping traffic
from entering from all directions at the same time. That enables them
to make diagonal crossings (hence, the term "scramble") and
conventional crossings without coming into conflict with turning vehicles.
The Traffic Safety Center is currently evaluating the Oakland scramble.
began their efforts to establish a scramble after the parent of a board
member of Asian Health Services (AHS), a non-profit agency in Oakland's
Chinatown, was killed in a traffic crash when using a crosswalk in
the neighborhood. The Oakland Chinatown Coalition, which includes AHS,
the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and the City of Oakland, implemented
The effort spans
agencies and age groups, explained Julia Liou, who is coordinating the
project for AHS. After first working with youth groups on pedestrian
safety, the project leaders began surveying older pedestrians in the
area. They found that people didn't have enough time to make it across
the intersection and that there were numerous conflicts between turning
cars and pedestrians. (One of the streets feeds into a major arterial,
the Posey tube, which goes to neighboring Alameda.)
the Oakland City Council with its findings, and councilman Danny Wan,
who represents the area, helped secure $80,000 to implement some solutions.
After studying the alternatives, and consulting extensively with the
immediate community, and city traffic engineers, the Oakland Chinatown
Coalition settled on the scramble as one tool. Once it was decided on,
AHS embarked on another education effort to explain the concept.
As part of the
campaign, AHS created a brochure with pictographs showing how the signals
work. They also worked with local young people to create a 12 by 4 ft.
mural that is intended to highlight pedestrian safety issues and raise
awareness of the new scramble system. (It is pictured on the front page
of this issue.)
This is just the beginning of a longer-term effort, Liou said. With funding from Caltrans, AHS is working with the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and the City of Oakland to devise a broader traffic safety plan for all of Chinatown.