Archive for Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Hampshire updates sought for pedestrian safety

City Commissioners are asked to spend $50,000 to improve safety on New Hampshire Street.

June 28, 2008

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City commissioners are being asked to find $50,000 in their tight budget to improve pedestrian safety on New Hampshire Street.

Leaders and patrons with the Lawrence Arts Center are requesting the city install a $35,000 pedestrian-activated traffic signal at the existing midblock crosswalk, after seeing multiple motorists drive through the crossing without regard for children or adults.

"They don't always stop, even with that sign in the middle of the street telling them to," said Linda Reimond, the pre-school director at the Arts Center. "In my opinion, it is a very dangerous situation."

Reimond and others are hoping that a full-fledged traffic signal will do a better job of getting the attention of motorists. David Woosley, the city's traffic engineer, said the site appeared to qualify for a light, if the city could figure out how to pay for it.

During a recent pedestrian count, about 115 pedestrians used the crosswalk during a one-hour period. Traffic volumes on that portion of New Hampshire are about 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles a day.

Woosley said his staff hadn't done enough research to know how often motorists failed to stop at the crosswalk. Reimond, though, said it was frequent. Reimond said she was nearly hit there recently. Despite being dressed in a bright red jacket - and standing 5-foot-9 - a car came within a few feet of striking her.

"I was all the way in the middle of the road," Reimond said. "If I wouldn't have stopped, I would have been hit. All it is going to take is for one child not to be seen."

The city's Traffic Safety Commission voted 8-0 to recommend city commissioners approve the traffic light.

Farther to the north on New Hampshire, a downtown bar owner is asking for a new midblock crosswalk between Seventh and Eighth streets.

Josh Mochel, owner of Jo Shmo's at 724 Mass., is requesting a $15,000 crosswalk that would be similar to the one near the Farmers' Market location in the 800 block of New Hampshire.

He said with several parking lots in the area, it was important to give patrons a safe way to cross the street. He said many people cross in the middle of the street to access a breezeway opening in the center of the 700 block of Massachusetts Street.

Woosley said he thought the street should be slightly narrowed at the crosswalk to cut down on the distance pedestrians must cross. But that would require the loss of nine on-street parking spaces in the area.

The city's Traffic Safety Commission was split - voting 4-4 - on the need for the crosswalk.

City commissioners have not budgeted for the $50,000 worth of improvements. Commissioners will discuss the issue at their 6:35 p.m. Tuesday meeting at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Comments

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

This is a problem no matter what the situation. Not saying the loading/unloading is not a point worth addressing. Parents could also stop using the loading zone as parking. No matter there is a problem and it is worth installing a light due to the amount of traffic and pedestrians. During performances,rehearsals and classes that crossing is used considerably. Some senior citizens are not as fast as they once were. I guess some drivers do not understand that pedestrians in a cross walk have the right of way.The LPD can only do so much because citizens want them to be everywhere.

boltzmann 6 years, 9 months ago

BeardedGnome says "why can't they just take the few extra steps, and cross at the corner?!"I guess my answer to this is why can't cars follow the law and stop at crosswalks when pedestrians are present. It is really quite simple. I'm never understood why midwesterners, who are normally quite polite, become so rude when they are in their cars. The level of hostility toward pedestrians and bicyclists in Kansas is really quite sad.

stbaker 6 years, 9 months ago

Justfornow: I have been mid-cross with my three children at that pedestrian crossing when a car blew through with complete disregard to PEDESTRIANS crossing at the PEDESTRIAN CROSSING. In fact, it had been at the corner of 10th/New Hampshire when we started crossing. That is the closest call we've had, but many similarly close calls when folks have been on their cell phones, daydreaming, driving 30mph+.And please realize, they operate a preschool at LAC five days a week. This creates a lot of pedestrian traffic when they have a loading zone (15 min parking) for only 4 cars.

cds 6 years, 9 months ago

Could probably get all the funds needed for this light by ticketing the jaywalkers who constantly walk across NH street anywhere but the crosswalks. May as well make NH from 10th to 6th a long giant crosswalk.

LadyJ 6 years, 9 months ago

Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't the parking garage across the street? Why would they need to park in the loading zone?

bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

boltzmann,I am frequently a downtown pedestrian! what I was referring to is the troubling tendency of this town to constantly slow down through traffic, build more congestion, put in traffic calming devices, and squeeze traffic out into neighborhood streets, or further from their intended destinations. besides, we're supposed to be promoting healthy lifestyles: walk a little more! *ukilljj,you have hit upon a very dangerus subject in the history of this town. if one of those crossing guards so much as waves at a friend, or just gives a friendly wave...well, all he|| will break out! no, I say no. if we have crossing guards in there, they'll be tempted to wave!

bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

why can't they just take the few extra steps, and cross at the corner?! do we really want a midblock crosswalk with light given the function of nh for traffic there? this will squeeze more traffic off to ct. in fact, midblock crosswalks don't make much sense anywhere on nh downtown! ***besides that, we can't spend that money, we have to spend twenty times that fixing up an old nondescript rail depot that serves fewer people!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Commissioners,The working traffic signals at 23rd and Haskell are being replaced with new traffic signals. Why not move two of those traffic signals to the 900 block of New Hampshire? Hopefully this existing resource is a possibility.

stbaker 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, the parking garage is across the street...Thus, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic at the crossing in front of the Arts Center, which is why they are proposing to put a pedestrian traffic signal there. Parents park in the loading zone (15 min parking) because they know there are numerous reckless drivers blowing through the pedestrian crossing. By parking in the loading zone, they eliminate having to cross traffic...reducing the likelihood of a vehicle running a pedestrian over in the crossing.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

just a note for those new to this forum:Merrill who popped up above, is on the dreaded traffic safety commission yet he opposes driving, believes that broken streets are good serving as passive traffic calming devices. furthermore, he wants us to have tolling blackouts to enforce energy conservation. just a little history to help you know how to properly assess anything he writes. I am surprised though that he doesn't have some cut-and-paste or inane links above. should read "rolling blackouts," though "tolling blackouts works too, as he wants us all to live a third world existance.

OnlyTheOne 6 years, 9 months ago

Where are the Lawrence Police? Pedestrian safety has been ridiculous in Lawrence for years. They grumble about the cost of fuel and this and that. They put up task forces to stop drivers looking for no insurance. They "cruise" looking for God knows what. Why in the heck can't they spare some officers for pedestrian crosswalk duty. Stop the silly fools that refuse to yield to pedestrians and make it expensive for them!

ukillaJJ 6 years, 9 months ago

This is the wrong idea...Let's make some new jobs by hiring some crossing guards. It will improve the economy AND the safety of the crosswalk.

another_concerned_parent 6 years, 9 months ago

More people would stop for kids/adults in the crosswalk if it was not used as a pick-up/drop-off point. I cannot tell you how many times I have driven by there, which I do 4 times on a daily basis, and vehicles are parked there waiting to pick-up or drop-off kids. If it was meant to be a loading zone it would be marked as such. Kids wait right by the street for their parents to pick them up, so drivers get tired of stopping and then the kids not crossing time after time. The Arts Center should really enforce their loading zone to the south of the crosswalk, or maybe the police should have more of a presence there during the times the classes are dismissing and issue tickets for those drivers that stop and wait for their kids and cause traffic to back-up.

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