Farid Javandel was on his way to work Monday morning, on his regular bike ride from Albany to Berkeley, when an oncoming driver hit him head-on at a stop sign, sending him hurtling down the sidewalk and crushing his bike under his SUV.
Javandel heads up Berkeley’s transportation division and has worked for the city for 13 years. He’s also an avid cyclist and user of public transport – so much so that he brought BART home from the hospital on Monday after being cleared to leave.
“I almost took a Bay Wheels bike from the hospital to MacArthur station, but I didn’t have a helmet with me,” Javandel told Berkeleyside on Tuesday. As a person who works in the field of transport, he takes alternative modes of travel to heart. “We try to tell people to get out of their cars – we have to be prepared to do it ourselves. “
Javandel was waiting at a four-lane stop sign when the driver slammed into it on Monday morning. He ended up with bumps and bruises as well as a sprained wrist, he said. But he walked out of the experience feeling lucky: “I got up and walked away. I feel quite lucky in this regard.
Initially, it was a reader who alerted Berkeleyside to Javandel’s close call, and local advocacy group Walk Bike Berkeley also posted about the incident on Twitter. Berkeleyside contacted Javandel for the full story.
He said he was heading west on Solano Avenue in Albany, waiting to turn onto Pierce Street, when the collision occurred. He had come to a complete stop and reported he was planning to turn left when a southbound driver from Pierce entered his lane.
“I just had time to see them come my way,” he said. He screamed and tried to get the driver’s attention. “There really wasn’t enough time to react and step aside. I just felt the car hit me, then I felt the pavement hit my shoulder and my head.
Javandel was wearing a helmet, which he called a “good thing”, but he was still stunned by the impact, which made him fly up the hill. He first called his wife to let her know what had happened rather than dialing 911.
As he took his bearings, Javandel realized that he and the driver had ended up more than 20 feet from the intersection where the collision had occurred. He looked for his bike and spotted it – under the vehicle that hit him. It has been totaled.
He said the driver had signaled his intention to turn left so he was watching this but didn’t expect it to turn into oncoming traffic. As time slowed down and she got closer, he kept thinking that she would see him.
“I thought they would swerve or stop or something,” he said. “They did not do it.”
The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation, said Javandel. But she gave him no explanation. First responders arrived quickly and the two did not communicate directly for some time.
Javandel said, given the time of day, it is possible that the sun could have been in the driver’s eyes.
He also said, anecdotally, that he had heard the concern that people are driving more recklessly these days than they perhaps have in the past.
“If everyone drove safely and followed the rules, we wouldn’t have accidents because nobody crashed on purpose,” he said.
Javandel said he had been cycling to Berkeley for more than a decade and had already had close calls. But he had never encountered a driver entering the wrong lane against oncoming traffic.
Javandel also noted that he was diligent in stopping at stop signs and obeying all traffic rules, especially as the city’s transport manager. It would be dangerous to break the rules. And that wouldn’t be a good look either.
“In this case, I was stopped at a stop sign for a left turn, waiting for my turn,” he said. “But sometimes people do strange things. You can’t always predict it.
Once, he added, his son came home to report seeing a driver in Albany using the Buchanan Street bike path.
“You do what you can. People make mistakes, ”he said. “They do crazy things. The more we can do to reduce the risk of things going wrong, the better. “
Learn more about Vision Zero on Berkeleyside and on the city website
That’s why cities, including Berkeley, are embracing the Vision Zero program, which aims to end crashes resulting in serious injury or death by 2028. The program examines behavioral and technical solutions that can help make the streets safer for everyone.
Berkeley has already had six official road deaths this year, in addition to a man who had a heart attack and recently died while cycling on the pedestrian bridge near the water park.
To learn more about what Berkeley is working on in the area of transportation, tune in to the city’s Transportation Commission, which typically meets on the third Thursday of the month.
Berkeley is also part of a regional effort to renovate the San Pablo Avenue corridor and add improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation. These efforts are continuing.
Berkeleyside has asked the Albany Police Department for details of the crash and the driver and will update this story when provided.