Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pedestrian issues

On Monday the New Colonist wrote about "Barriers to bus service", commenting on the lack of safe places for those waiting for busses at suburban shopping centers. The article included links to photographs in Eric Miller's archive of photos about pedestrian issues.

This article refreshed my concern about the way our reliance on the automobile has led to the existence of dangerous conditions for pedestrians. The recent death of a ten-year-old on Old Freeport Road in Ohara illustrates the need for safe places for pedestrians to travel. (Today's Valley News Dispatch has an editorial commenting on the same story, and rightly pointing out that the group of children could have waited for a ride. But should there not have been a safe walkway for pedestrians to use?)

In and around Tarentum many people do not own cars. They walk and use public transportation to get to their destinations. Some use motorized wheelchairs, and are forced onto narrow Tarentum streets when disrepair of a sidewalk leaves piles of gravel in the way for weeks at a time.

Sidewalk from Tarentum bridge, looking toward the bridgeThe lengthy project to widen the Tarentum Bridge road in New Kensington was frustrating to drivers. But not many drivers are aware how the whole project was conducted with little respect for the safety of pedestrians. People using the bridge walkway were for a time forced to walk in traffic at the New Kensington end of the bridge.

Eventually the sidewalk was completed as far as the corner with the entrance to the Giant Eagle. Although the sidewalk has no barrier (as exists along the bridge), at least now pedestrians have their own place to walk a short distance into New Kensington. (A car would at least need to jump the curb to endanger a pedestrian.)

Crosswalk to the New Kensington Giant EagleBut at the end of the sidewalk, the crosswalk leads to a corner where no sidewalk resumes. Pedestrians, or those in motorized wheelchairs, are forced back into traffic.

Although Tarentum has a few convenience stores, there is no supermarket here. The bridge walkway is a necessary route for many local pedestrians to pick up their weekly groceries.

The route should be safer.

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Connie said...

I truly feel sorry that a child had to lose their life like this, but I even feel more sorry that the parents would allow a girl of ten years of age to be out at 12.45 a.m. This is my biggest concern. Does a child belong out at this hour of the night? I truly think not. This whole incident could of been curbed if there would of been more parental supervision. Such a tragedy and a shame that it happened.

Connie said...

I did want to post a comment also on there needing to be safer walk ways for pedestrians. I am in complete agreement on that. I know I lived in Tarentum for two years when my children were babies and I also had no transportation at the time and depended on walking across the tarentum bridge for access to the store. I have to say there should be something in place that would be beneficial to the pedestrians.

Elphie said...

I have lived in tarentum for six years now and have on many occassions brought the topic of safer walkways in the Boro to our Council. In one instance I mentioned to our Mayor that there was no hanicap parking in front of the library when it was located on 6th Ave. Within the week, the curb was paintd and signs went up.

There are some areas that are in need of serious attention. The corner of 7th and Lock St. Horrible. There needs to be a 4-way stop/intersection there. 7th Ave. is traveled like 6th Ave. The accident rate at Lock and 7th far exceeds the accident rate on 6th Ave. There is no stop sign at the bottom of Lock and 6th, another heavily traveled area.

Drescher Field entrance and exit onto 1st Ave. is an accident involving a pedestrian waiting to happen. The stop sign appears after the first crosswalk. The next crosswalk, only feet away, is on the stop line where the stop sign actually is. If you step onto First Ave., and a driver does not see the sign until they are right on it, you will be hit. The stop sign needs to be moved farther down and the old crosswalk be painted or removed. Drive there. But be aware that someone may be coming from the exit.

Recently I was crossing over from 4th Ave to 6th Ave. A man was standing at the split on 6th Ave. There was lunch traffic, as it can be in Tarentum, and I noticed a couple with a baby in front of the bank yelling at this man to stay put. When I came upon the man, I realized he was blind and had a long visible white cane. Not one car stopped for this man. The man in front of the bank stopped traffic and escorted this man to the corner. Now, shame on those who felt no need to stop, and second, we do have a fair amount of challenged persons in this town. Some deaf, some blind. Why are there no accomodations for these folks???

With the new mall and the higher flow of traffic into town, these safety issues should be logical common sense. Especially in areas where children are walking to and from school, or playing. I brought this issue to our Boro Solicitor and was told that in order for new stop signs to be posted, new ordinances would have to be imposed and enforced, and that stop signs could not be installed to slow down the flow of traffic. Now, how darn hard would it be to look at the grid of the town, re-locate and post new stop signs, have Council pass it due to safety,and liability reasons, resgiter the new ordinance with the Magistrate and maybe, just maybe, we might have less accidents or even possible fatalities in the town?

Let's not even get into the sidewalk issue.

I know someone who walks across the bridge every day. I am very happy that they have afforded some measures to accomodate the pedestrians, safety.

Connie, good question. What was that child doing out that late without her parents?

Connie said...

Hi Elphie, You raised a lot of good questions, and it is a shame that people in cars most times have no respect for those that are not.
As for the question about the parents. I had to ask that. My boys are 16 and 14 and I watch them like a hawk. I just have been very picky about where and who my kids go with, but I guess that is the difference in parent skills. I know that is why every where I got people notice how different and respectful my boys are. They are not perfect there only down fall is they can be mouthy at times , but other then that they give me no problems.