Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Accident brings pedestrian safety issue to forefront

January 31, 2006


Even before Monday's fatal traffic accident near Prairie Park School, city officials were planning a study of pedestrian safety in school zones.

"It's at the top of the list of our agenda," said Lisa Harris, a member of City Hall's Pedestrian Advisory Committee. "We're interested in all dangerous pedestrian areas, and we're certainly concerned about areas with children."

But she added: "We're just getting started. We haven't gathered much data at all."

Growing concerns about pedestrian safety led last summer to the creation of the committee, a spinoff of the city's Traffic Safety Commission. There were 46 car-pedestrian accidents in the first 11 months of 2005, according to city data, up from 31 in all of 2004.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said Monday he hadn't heard concerns about the Harper Street neighborhood where Monday's accident took place. And Danny Drungilas - who is president of the Prairie Park Neighborhood Assn. and chairman of the pedestrian committee - said he hadn't heard complaints, either.

Drungilas, however, acknowledged the street had become "congested" with traffic as the neighborhood has grown.

"I go by that intersection at least a couple times a day," he said. "There's a lot of new construction."

Susan Mangan, who lives near the intersection of 25th Terrace and Harper Street where the accident took place, said she and other neighbors had been trying to get the city to pay attention to the growing traffic problems in the area, but with no success.

"You just can't play near the street. It's not safe," she said. "We've asked them, please just run out and run radar. Come out and ticket someone on occasion."

Lawrence pedestrian fatalities in recent years:

¢April 2005: Jodie Hatzenbihler, 25, hit and killed while walking across the street after leaving Cadillac Ranch, 2515 W. Sixth St.

¢March 2004: Devin Scott Emery, 20, hit and killed outside a fraternity and sorority party near Teepee Junction.

¢September 2002: Heather Coulter, 24, hit and killed while standing outside her stalled car at 19th and Iowa streets.

¢September 2000: Roger Borland, 53, hit and killed while trying to cross North Third Street during the morning rush-hour traffic.

¢April 2000: John Lowe, 38, struck in the alley behind the Community Mercantile, Ninth and Mississippi streets.

¢May 1999: Henry Wilks Jr., 27, hit and killed while walking on North 1550 Road.

¢March 1998: Lisa Rosel, 19, hit and killed as she crossed the 1400 block of Tennessee.

-Staff writer Eric Weslander contributed to this story.


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