Deadly crash casts spotlight on Alameda traffic safety

In Alameda, most victims of traffic-related deaths are seniors out taking a walk.

"They are even more vulnerable, and so we definitely are watching out for our most vulnerable road users," said Lisa Foster, a city of Alameda transportation planner.

On Sunday night, former KTVU news director Fred Zehnder was out on a walk when when he was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver. Zehnder was 87 years old.

A tragedy like this just highlights how important that work is, that we need to redouble our efforts," said Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.

Ashcraft said the city is trying to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths as part of its "vision zero" strategy.

"We want people to do just what Mr. Zehnder was doing, be out, taking walks, to be 87 years old, be fit," the mayor said.

Alameda police said DUI cases are trending downward. 

But four people died in traffic collisions in the city in 2020, compared to an average of two deaths each year.

A map shows some of the "high-injury corridors" in Alameda, with circles showing the intersections with a large number of crashes.

Lincoln Avenue and Walnut Street, where Zehnder died, is one of them. Last year, the intersection was narrowed, with painted curb "bulb-outs"  and marked bollards.

"The city is using those high-injury corridors to prioritize investments," Foster said.

Within 24 hours of Zehnder's death, Alameda police also responded to two rollover crashes on the island.

"Being a ‘vision-zero’ city, obviously we take every collision involving a pedestrian or vehicle or pedestrian and a bicycle or vehicle and a vehicle very seriously," said Alameda police Lt. Ryan Derespini.

After each major or deadly crash in Alameda, officials analyze the location, "from our engineering department, our traffic planning department, the police department and public works to see if there are other improvements that need to be made," Derespini said.