Livermore Proves Safer Streets Can Happen Sooner, Rather Than Later

Reserve and Mullen Intersection in Missoula

For the last two years, Livermore, California, has been welcoming pedestrian safety improvements along East Avenue. Utilizing low-cost, short-term methods to visually calm traffic and catalyze long-term change—a strategy known as tactical urbanism—has allowed locals to expedite long-requested interventions to the corridor.

While the road has long possessed a reputation for being unsafe, particularly at night, the recent initiative was catalyzed by the death of Yaneli Morales, who was fatally struck by a car while crossing East Avenue in 2019. Her family launched a petition calling for small improvements that would make a big difference for pedestrians: better lighting, speed bumps, and improved visibility. “This is something that I believe has to get done right away so no other families have to mourn the loss of a loved one,” the petition stated, adding that safety improvements shouldn’t be limited to one intersection but implemented throughout Livermore.

Frustrated with the city’s inertia, the family—and the petition’s nearly 1,500 supporters—hoped that Yaneli’s death would finally prompt some change, and so they took their demands to city council. In the weeks after the tragedy, however, the intersection looked the same. “Even though that intersection is 30 mph, drivers very well go faster than that, knowing there’s a school near, apartment buildings, a church, a store, where pedestrians are always at crossing,” the petition described. “How many fatalities is it going to take for them to do something about this.”

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