Two Berkeley mothers are calling for stepped-up traffic safety measures after their son was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Halloween night.
In a Change.org petition they posted last week, Shannon Mitchell and Alicia Schmidt urged the city to add stop signs, speed bumps and brightly marked crosswalks at key intersections in their Berkeley neighborhood.
"Our son was hit by a speeding car Halloween night on Derby Street in SW Berkeley. You may have seen it in the news," they wrote. "We want to share that he is home recovering from surgery for his broken femur, fractured pelvis and head laceration. It’s an absolute miracle that he survived and will make a full recovery. He is in great spirits, playing legos, piano and Minecraft, as usual."
Police said the driver struck the 7-year-old boy in the 1200 block of Derby Street just before 6:25 p.m. on Halloween and fled the scene.
This week, Mitchell wrote, their son is "going back to school, healing from his surgery and … in good spirits."
Still, she wrote, her family does not want to lose sight of important changes they believe are needed in Berkeley to improve traffic safety.
They've asked community members who feel the same way to take action, from requesting traffic calming studies and installing "slow down, kids and pets at play" yard signs to emailing council members to point out "problematic areas in your neighborhood, trends in bad traffic behavior and dangerous incidences."
Mitchell said she had tried to reach Berkeley police to talk about the collision but had not received a response.
At this point, she wrote, there is still no known suspect in the case.
But that hasn't stopped the mothers from pushing for action.
Mitchell wrote that she's been invited to speak Wednesday afternoon before a City Council policy committee focused on streets and sidewalks and is connecting with neighborhood groups that are looking to take action.
"I'd love to forget it all happened, but alas," Mitchell wrote. "Our family, and the other parents and children that were trick or treating with us that night, will never forget the horror."
As of Monday night, her petition had been signed more than 1,500 times.
Councilman Terry Taplin told The Scanner that he supports the solutions the parents are seeking.
He said the most important thing they can do right now is to get a formal request into the city about traffic calming. No changes can be considered until that happens, he said.
More broadly, Taplin said, he hopes the state will continue to pursue legislation around speed cameras and automated enforcement, which are part of the city's Vision Zero goals to end serious and fatal crashes.
Read more about traffic safety in Berkeley.
Taplin also said Berkeley will need to put more thought going forward into how it approaches traffic safety as a whole.
"We’re gonna have to have an honest conversation about traffic enforcement," he said Monday night. "It’s good that we're reforming the way that we do stops and that we have this three-pronged approach to prioritize moving violations over busted taillights. But we’re gonna need the staffing for traffic enforcement and I think we’re gonna have to really think about the role of traffic enforcement in safe streets."
Taplin's office is holding a Community Safety and Health Popup on Nov. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at San Pablo Park: "Come by to chat about neighborhood safety, get a free screening for hypertension, or just to say hello. We’ll be meeting at the field directly north of the Frances Albrier Community Center at 2800 Park St."
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