Berkeley father and toddler hit by driver during bike commute

"We went over hard and he got tossed out," said Adam Moss. The little boy escaped unharmed but his father may have a torn ligament.

Berkeley father and toddler hit by driver during bike commute
Berkeley father Adam Moss with two of his children on their Xtracycle Swoop Cargo Bike. Courtesy

On Tuesday morning, a driver in West Berkeley struck a father who was cycling to school with his toddler on his e-bike behind him.

Now, Berkeley bike advocates are pushing the city to make the busy intersection safer.

"We went over hard and he got tossed out," said Berkeley resident Adam Moss on Tuesday afternoon. "I tried to crawl over to him, but I couldn't get up."

The little boy turned out to be OK, but the crash was still terrifying, his parents said.

Moss said he hopes Berkeley will take the crash as a sign that it needs to prioritize new infrastructure at the intersection of Heinz Avenue and Seventh Street.

"It's a really important one and a dangerous one," he said, noting that Ecole Bilingue De Berkeley, Aquatic Park School preschool and Berkeley Bowl West — all major destinations for families — are nearby.

It's also a bike boulevard — part of Berkeley's "recommended bikeway network" where bicycling is supposed to be "safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages and abilities," according to the city's 2017 Bike Plan.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of room for improvement, cycling advocates said.

"It's a place where a lot of cars are driving way too fast," Moss said. "They're kind of hauling down Seventh Street."

"You’d think a street with that many bikers and pedestrians heading to two schools and Berkeley Bowl would have safer infrastructure," added Julia Moss, Adam's wife, who is an active member of advocacy group Walk Bike Berkeley.

Adam Moss had just dropped off one child at Malcolm X Elementary and was taking his 3-year-old son to preschool when the crash happened just before 8:30 a.m.

Moss said he was westbound on Heinz waiting at the stoplight when a driver in a silver Buick Encore SUV, who was southbound on Seventh, took the left turn too fast, crossed the double-yellow lines into westbound Heinz and struck Moss's front tire and knee.

The impact "sent us flying," Moss said. A nearby teacher and construction worker immediately rushed to help them.

Two parents and the director of his preschool also came to comfort them at the crash scene.

The driver, reportedly a mother who also was taking her child to school, remained at the scene as police investigated the crash.

When the Berkeley Fire Department arrived, they were able to determine that Moss' leg wasn't broken. But they could hear a popping sound when he moved it and said he likely had sustained a torn ligament.

Moss declined an ambulance ride so he could get his son to school but went to the hospital on his own Tuesday afternoon to get checked out.

Moss said his Xtracycle Swoop cargo bike was also damaged in the crash.

A guardrail that's part of the bike helped protect his son from injury, he added.

"He was obviously shaken up and it was hard to see me in pain, but he was fine," Moss said.

Taplin: "Berkeley needs to double down" on traffic safety

On Tuesday afternoon, West Berkeley Councilman Terry Taplin said he had been "devastated to hear that yet another motorist has struck a member of our community, and a cyclist riding with a child no less."

"Traffic violence is as deadly to our neighborhoods as gun violence," he told The Scanner. "As local government agencies, we have an obligation to maintain public safety and infrastructure. Berkeley needs to double down these two fronts and dispense with distractions."

Read more about traffic safety in Berkeley.

Taplin has already pledged to look into what might be done to make the intersection safer.

Berkeley resident Marc Hedlund, another member of Walk Bike Berkeley, noted that there are about 500 students in the area due to Ecole Bilingue's two campuses, Aquatic preschool and Global Montessori International School on Ninth Street.

Hedlund, who is also board chair of Bike East Bay, said Berkeley needs to prioritize more traffic-calming measures to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

"These incidents happen too often, all over the city, and we are not doing nearly enough to address them," he said. "We saw a good response after the Halloween crash affecting another young child but, as that child’s mother said, it’s not enough to address one location and push fast traffic off to other locations. We have to calm traffic for all neighborhoods."

Halloween hit-and-run in Berkeley spurs traffic safety eval
“I just grabbed him up onto my body and just held him, screaming,” the mother of the boy who was hit said Wednesday. The driver “never stopped.”

John Beaulaurier, a Berkeley father who is also a member of Walk Bike Berkeley, said it's unfortunate that the city isn't more proactive about bike safety improvements: Too often something bad needs to happen before anything is done.

He said hearing about Tuesday morning's crash was distressing.

"This is my biggest fear as a dad that bikes with a 4-year-old to school drop-off every day," he said. "Given that BPD has virtually no visible traffic enforcement presence, the onus is on the physical streetscape to define and constrain driver behavior."

He said he'd like to see raised and brightly painted crosswalks across Heinz on both sides of Seventh Street and bulb-outs on all four corners of the intersection "to prevent drivers from cutting the corner (as they appear to have done in this case)."

In an interview after the crash, Adam Moss described himself as a "very conservative and cautious cyclist." He said Tuesday's crash had been his closest call to date.

Moss said he generally sticks to bicycle boulevards, particularly when riding with his children, to ensure the route is as safe as possible.

Moss also said Berkeley needs to do much more to install new infrastructure that prioritizes cyclist safety. Money has been allocated, he added, but there's a lot of work that hasn't happened.

"Despite being such a progressive landscape, the city has really been dragging its heels," he said. "Until that infrastructure is put in place, I fear but expect there will continue to be injuries."

Tuesday's crash follows two serious collisions in Berkeley since Sunday that have sent female pedestrians to the hospital.

One woman sustained a skull fracture and the other, who may have been a jogger, also had major injuries, police said.

Berkeley police called in its Fatal Accident Investigation Team, which handles serious crashes as well as fatal ones, for Monday's collision.

The woman from that crash is still in the hospital, BPD said.

The department said it would provide additional updates about Sunday's crash victim if they become available.

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