Contact Street Smarts
Addressing pedestrian, holiday travel safety
Dear Street Smarts, Q: I am wondering if you can help bring attention to an intersection without a stoplight that needs a signal for pedestrians. It is the crosswalk that crosses Water Street at Seabright Avenue. This crosswalk gets a lot of use, including by me personally. There also are a lot of children that use it in the mornings going to school, both on foot and bikes. One problem with the intersection is that there are often cars stopped in the turn lane waiting to turn onto Seabright. This makes it difficult for cars travelling north on Water to see anyone who is crossing from the Seabright side. Unfortunately, with it getting dark so early, I have found myself needing to cross after dark, and last week I really felt I was taking my life in my hands. After cars would not stop for me, I resorted to waving my arms to try to make myself visible enough for someone to stop, but at least four more cars zoomed past without even slowing down. Anything you and the city can do to alleviate the situation would be appreciated. Thank you, Jennifer Price, Santa Cruz A: Public work's top officials have gone out to take a look at the intersection, one they are very familiar with, said Chris Schneiter, assistant director for the agency. "The short-term ideas are to ask PG&E to improve the lighting at the intersection; have city staff restripe the crosswalk and double back the pedestrian crossing signs; and limb up the dense street tree," he said. "We will get those requests in soon." As far as a long term fix, he suggested the installation of "a pedestrian activated rapid flashing beacon" instead of a full traffic signal with pedestrian safety accessories. "That will take funding, on the order of $30,000-$50,000," said Schneiter. "It will have to compete with other intersections as we have limited funding and due to the relatively low number of collisions, it’s not likely to rate well for future grant funding opportunities." CHP, law enforcement nationwide keep roads safe this holiday season Expect to see a whole lot more police and CHP officers on the roads this weekend, as law enforcement agencies nationwide increase their patrol ranks to keep holiday travelers safe. "A majority of collisions and roadway deaths are preventable if motorists follow basic traffic safety rules," said Joe Farrow, CHP commissioner. "Enjoy the holidays but remember: always wear a seat belt, drive at a speed safe for roadway conditions, eliminate distractions while driving, and always designate a sober driver." Farrow's legion has teamed up with state troopers in Oregon and Washington to launch their Interstate 5 Challenge, a five-day strategy to save lives on I-5. Their focus will be on speeders, suspected DUI drivers, seat belt usage and aggressive driving. I-5, which is more than 1,300 miles in length and travels through 17 counties between San Diego and the Oregon border, averages 14,000 collisions annually in California alone. In 2012, 92 people lost their lives on that highway in the Golden State. The CHP also has set its sights on a stretch of Interstate 40, which connects California to North Carolina. In a two day campaign, officers will focus on the 155 mile stretch between Needles and Barstow, which sees an average of 200 collisions annually. In 2012, at least 10 people were killed in collisions that occurred here in California. Both special enforcement campaigns conclude Sunday, Dec. 1.
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