As pedestrian traffic increases with warmer weather, local officials are thinking of new ways to increase crosswalk visibility.
On June 3, the village of Greenfield installed six signs in high-traffic crosswalks to remind drivers that they need to watch for pedestrians, city manager Todd Wilkin told The Times-Gazette.
“We had two council members who pedestrians had reached out to because they were really concerned about the safety of our crosswalks. People were not stopping for them; they had almost gotten hit,” Wilkin said. “October is Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month, and I wanted to go ahead and get the signs out and, one, kind of re-educate everybody on where the crosswalks are and what our responsibilities are as drivers and, two, just protect our citizens.”
Though a majority of the new signs are located in crosswalks near the intersection of Jefferson and Washington streets, the village also installed signs at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Fourth Street and near the Greenfield Branch Library.
“We put one up out by the library as well, and there are a lot of Green Hills Village residents who walk across the street right there,” Wilkin said. “We have a lot of mid-block crosswalks that are probably the most dangerous. We could’ve put 15 of those things up, but we were trying to think about where the most pedestrian traffic is. We didn’t want to put them in every crosswalk — we just wanted to identify the heaviest used and the most dangerous crosswalks.”
However, the signs were never meant to be permanent fixtures. Instead, Wilkin said the village will alternate between displaying the signs and removing them.
“If they just stay up, you kind of grow complacent and become blind to them,” Wilkin said. “It’s just to kind of trigger that thought of, ‘Oh, yeah, there is a crosswalk here. We need to make sure nobody’s entering the crosswalk.’”
Wilkin added that one of the crosswalk signs has been removed for repairs after someone ran over it, though he suspects they did so intentionally.
Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha told The Times-Gazette the city of Hillsboro has dealt with similar damage to its crosswalk signs since installing them last year.
“Right after they were put up, they continue to be ran over and broken, and they’re very expensive signs,” Harsha said. “It seems like every time we put one up, a week later it’s cracked or broken. It gets to be quite expensive, so we’re looking for a way to keep the visibility and awareness up but, at the same time, not have to turn around and replace them every time they get ran over.”
To address the problem, Harsha said the city is considering alternative ways to increase crosswalk visibility and pedestrian safety, such as by adding crosswalk signage and potentially lighting closer to sidewalks and painting additional “zebra” lines within crosswalks to make them more noticeable to drivers.
Harsha said he and other city officials hope to make adjustments to crosswalks later this summer.
“When I go walk through town and I come out on the crosswalk, it seems like three or four or five people will pass and not stop when you’re supposed to be stopping,” Harsha said. “All we can do is make it much more visible and try to make drivers more aware of it.”
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.