Bridge Answer Man column: Time to pay attention to pedestrian safety
Bridge Answer Man
“That’s how pedestrians and cars live together,” Fred Estrian, the new “pedestrian champion” mascot, said in the recently unveiled Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) public service campaign. Its target is creating awareness about pedestrian safety, delivered in hopefully a fresh, new way that inspires travelers to be conscious when sharing the road. Fred’s words, and this launch, couldn’t be better timing for Glenwood Springs.
With the opening of the new Eighth Street connection, CDOT and the Grand Avenue Bridge (GAB) team turn their attention to pedestrian safety, especially with the new traffic pattern. It may take some time for pedestrians to get used to the connection. And now that vehicles can take the straight shot roadway from Midland Avenue to Grand Avenue via Eighth Street, pedestrians need to be aware of higher traffic volume in that area and use the dedicated crosswalks.
This matter of “sharing the road” is nothing new, but remains an ongoing concern and high priority on both the local level and statewide.
According to 2015 preliminary data collected by CDOT, there were about 1,330 pedestrian crashes, resulting in 59 pedestrian fatalities in the state. Nationally, each year about 5,000 pedestrians die and 70,000 are injured in traffic accidents.
Estrian, a character who jumps out of a crosswalk signal to hit the streets and spread awareness about pedestrians and vehicles safely coexisting, serves as a creative way to talk about the facts. With a relaxed demeanor and quirky humor, Fred travels busy streets pointing out seemingly unimportant actions performed both by vehicles and pedestrians that make a big difference for safe navigating.
Most crashes in the state involving pedestrians occur away from intersections, CDOT’s website states. And young children and the elderly are more likely to be killed or injured in a pedestrian crash than any other group.
The campaign emphasizes responsibility on the part of both pedestrians and vehicles, and suggests motorists shift their mindset, and remember that “we are all pedestrians at one time or another.”
Adopting this way of thinking when navigating Glenwood Springs is crucial to working toward pedestrian safety now and especially during the 2017 detour.
Next year, the Grand Avenue traffic bridge will be replaced, requiring about a 95-day detour. During that time the new Eighth Street connection will be the detour route, underscoring the importance of additional modes of transportation. With more foot and cycling traffic, the community will need to shift its mentality and approach to transit, and begin supporting alternate means of traveling.
This shift is occurring statewide, as shown with CDOT’s new campaign, dedication and funding to pedestrian safety education. We need to get creative, get supportive and work toward solutions that can sustain beyond the detour.
TIPS FOR SAFE CROSSING
• Always cross in marked crosswalks
• Stop at the edge of the street and look left-right-left for approaching traffic. Don’t forget to look for turning vehicles
• If a vehicle approaches, make eye contact with the driver before crossing
• Look before walking past stopped vehicles
• Don’t wear headphones or talk on the phone while crossing the street
• While driving, be cognizant of your surroundings and watch for pedestrians on each side of the street
• Come to a complete stop when required at intersections, and stop before the crosswalks.
• When a pedestrian approaches, make eye contact and wait for them to walk well past your car.
• Don’t wear headphones, text or talk on the phone while driving
In mid-November, the area near the intersection of Seventh and Eighth streets will be closed. This closure is necessary for crews to complete curb and gutter installation and widen sidewalks in the area. During this closure, the Eighth Street detour connection will be open. Pedestrian access and access to the Farnum Holt Funeral Home will be maintained.
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