Livermore: Pedestrian fatality prompts call for safety improvements

Supporters speak to City Council, pursue petition on changes to East Avenue

The death of a Livermore woman killed trying to cross a street earlier this month has prompted family, friends and even total strangers to push city leaders to improve safety conditions along the notorious stretch of East Avenue.

A group of supporters of Yaneli Morales turned out to the Livermore City Council meeting Monday night calling for action, and more than 1,300 signatures have been collected on an online petition recommending the city add better lighting, speed bumps and other improvements.

"How many fatalities is it going to take for them to do something about this," organizer Jessica Flores wrote on the online petition.

"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 just because the council chooses to very well remodel the community center and build more houses but can't fix a couple of our streets with just better visibility and more enhancement with drivers," she added.

Morales, 26, died after being hit by a vehicle while attempting to cross East Avenue about 100 feet east of the Jensen Street intersection just before 8:45 p.m. Aug. 4, according to Livermore police. She had not used the nearby crosswalk at East and Jensen that illuminates when the pedestrian button is pressed.

The driver, whose name hasn't been released, was not cited in relation to the collision, with the pedestrian determined to be at fault, Livermore police Sgt. Steve Goard confirmed on Tuesday.

That stretch of East Avenue is considered notorious for pedestrian safety concerns by some residents despite the crosswalk beacon at Jensen.

In the petition narrative, Flores acknowledges Morales wasn't in the crosswalk but says she wasn't far from it and lighting throughout that area of East Avenue is "horrible, and visibility in the evening actually gets worse."

"Even though that intersection is 30mph, 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," Flores said, while also citing other serious collisions near East and Jensen.

Petition supporters (1,376 signatures toward the 2,000 goal, to date) call for the City Council and traffic planners to consider anything and everything "to enhance the safety so no more tragedies happen."

A handful of Morales' supporters, including her sister, spoke to the council Monday during non-agenda comment. Council members told the audience they were precluded from talking about the issue that night because it wasn't listed on the meeting's posted agenda, but they did instruct city staff to bring the matter back for full discussion at a future meeting.

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Like this comment
Posted by Ruby
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 27, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Post slower speed limits as well all around tow, furthermore I have never seen sooooo...... many distracted drivers habitually peering down at there phones while driving! Not a joke

4 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Unfortunately pedestrians have been spoiled by legislative and infrastructure measures aimed at protecting them. Sad reminder that if you have to jaywalk, please look both ways before stepping into the road!

4 people like this
Posted by DJ Drone
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 27, 2019 at 6:03 pm

As a resident who lives close to East Ave I have seen 3 people die at that intersection. If you look down the right side of East Ave from Jensen to Hilcrest there are no lights, the speed notification sign is turned off at night, residents and cut through traffic take advantage of speeding through that area. I applaud the community in showing up at the council meeting and expressing their concerns. Hopefully this time more will be done to improve this section of Livermore

2 people like this
Posted by MikeJ
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 28, 2019 at 8:50 am

And yet when the City considered redesigning the entire stretch of East Ave to make it more pedestrian friendly, people protested it because they would lose on street parking. Can't improve safety without losing parking or lanes or both.

1 person likes this
Posted by Melissa
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 28, 2019 at 11:17 am

@ruby. When we moved here in 98 the speed limit was 25, the community had it raised to 30. While I agree distracted drivers are an issue, I don’t think it should be continually brought up in regards to this incident... the driver was not distracted, and this was a tragic accident
@frequent - you are exactly right.. this was not what this person would normally do, she went out after her boyfriend who was not hit. It was sadly a lapse in judgement during an emotional situation.
@DJ the street defiantly needs better lighting, but part of the issue is the lights that are there are obscured by the large full trees - a quick way to start fixing the area, might be trimming some of the trees back. I am not a fan of speed humps, but they might be helpful on East.
@Mike, I thought the changes suggested for East was to add bike lanes, not any additional safety measures for pedestrians.

4 people like this
Posted by MikeJ
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 28, 2019 at 8:31 pm

@melissa It was bike lanes, additional street features. All would make the street feel narrower which slows down traffic.

4 people like this
Posted by really
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Aug 30, 2019 at 8:10 am

Why try to implement all these changes instead of making people aware that they should use the illuminated crosswalk? If they walked the 100 feet the car would have seen the lights and stopped. Doesn't matter what you do to the street if people are going to run out without looking.

Like this comment
Posted by Randy Murrow
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 30, 2019 at 1:22 pm

I routinely use crosswalks in several areas around town. I'd say more times
than not I have been nearly run over by drivers who ignore the fact there's someone
in the crosswalk. One major issue is the jerks who don't stop when someone is crossing the street. For some reason they feel entitled to keep driving through the crosswalk with zero regard for the person who is trying to safely cross.
One location that is absolutely terrible to cross is the crosswalk on Wetmore Road that leads to the entrance to Sycamore Grove Park. It's very nearly suicide trying to get across that street. There's a lot psychos who will hit you. They don't care if someone is in the crosswalk. One time when I was in the crosswalk a man sped around the curve form Holmes St.. I saw he wasn't going to stop so I ran out his way. He missed me by a few inches. Then he had the gall to stop and laugh at me and then said: Oops, Missed you.
The issue is the stupid and arrogant people who blatantly violate other peoples rights. People, You have to be diligent in protecting yourselves when crossing the street. Where light colored clothes and carry a flashlight at night. And most of all, don't trust the person behind the wheel to stop. Make sure they are stopped before you start to cross.
Until City Hall gets off their buts to do something about the idiots, you have to protect yourself!! Good Luck.

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