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January 20, 2013

PUBLIC FORUM: Crosswalks should be considered for walkers

— In early 2012 January or February, I stopped by the mayor’s office to talk to him about the lack of pedestrian crosswalks on the newly remodeled East Market Street. While I do appreciate the new turn lane, lighting and sidewalks, I am really bothered by the fact that there is nowhere along East Market Street after 24th Street where a pedestrian can safely cross. I told the mayor that I am especially concerned because I have a brother who lives at Pine Crest who physically cannot drive and must walk or take public transportation. I also told him that I’ve seen a number of people of all ages on foot, in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, etc. trying to dodge traffic to cross from the south side to the north side to get to Cass Plaza, the Mall, Mall Road, etc. I suggested putting up signal buttons to stop traffic (as we have at other crosswalks). Mayor Franklin listened and then basically told me that crosswalks were not part of the original plans for that renovation and to add them now would be expensive. End of story.

I’m sorry, but I truly cannot see why adding signal buttons would be that expensive and should be dismissed out of hand. I’m not talking about digging up pavement and installing pressure plates. I’m simply suggesting that buttons be wired into every stoplight east of 24th Street — at West Roselawn, both Cass Plaza entrances, Mall Road, the Mall/Rural King entrance and Yorktown Road — so that traffic can be stopped in all directions to allow pedestrians to safely cross East Market Street to get to the various businesses. When I was a student at Ball State, we had this type of “Scramble Light” which stopped traffic in all directions for about 15 to 20 seconds or so, thereby allowing students to safely cross a very busy intersection in the middle of campus.

I have no idea what the cost would be to install this type of signal system, but I don’t believe it would cost the city nearly as much as a lawsuit when a pedestrian is critically injured or killed. By extending the sidewalk east of 24th Street, the city finally provided a safe walkway along East Market Street but at the same time, it has failed to provide a safe means to cross an extremely busy and congested street. There may also be possible ADA concerns because our disabled citizens cannot safely cross.

Of course for this to work, all of these intersections along East Market Street would need to be marked as “No Turn on Red” to prevent vehicles from turning right on red and entering the crosswalk. There are other intersections in Logansport where turning on red is not allowed, and personally, I don’t believe that any delay that a driver would face by not turning right on red would even remotely compare to the loss that a family would face when a loved one is injured or killed.

Disadvantages? None that I can think of. Advantages? (1) Increased revenue for businesses due to increased foot traffic; (2) encourages a healthy lifestyle i.e. walking vs. driving; (3) walking is environmentally friendly and saves gas and, most importantly, (4) provides a safe way to cross one of the busiest streets in town.

I urge the Board of Public Works, the City Council and all citizens of Logansport to support this proposal and make our city streets truly safe and accessible.

Cheryl Smith, Logansport

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