March 10, 2009
This week, crews are working on safety improvements for pedestrians in Charlottesville.
From countdown clocks to ramps, and crosswalks, changes are coming that will affect the way you walk around Charlottesville.
Assistant Traffic Engineer, Donovan Branche, says, " we're trying to increase pedestrian and vehicular togetherness."
It's part of a pedestrian safety initiative City Council asked the planners to undertake. According to engineers, this week, they are installing lighted crosswalks at Market and 6th, Avon and Hinton, and High and Willow. They will install them at eight locations in Charlottesville. The purpose of these lighted crosswalks is to increase pedestrian visibility and increase driver awareness of pedestrians in the crosswalks.
"Research shows drivers tend to yield a lot more in a lighted crosswalk than they do in a normal crosswalk," Branche says.
The new crosswalks may be the most visible change you see, but there are other steps engineers are taking.
Countdown clocks are supposed to be a tool to improve safety.
"When they approach a crosswalk, a lot of times they are racing the light to try and make it across these countdown signals will tell you exactly how much time you have to get across the crosswalk before the light is going to change and traffic is going to be moving in your way," Branche explains.
The city is also going to be revamping some of the ramps for people with disabilities. Right now, many of ramps lead a blind pedestrian into the center of the intersection. The improved ramps will lead walkers straight into the crosswalk.
Charlottesville police say they've increased their enforcement of cars not yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalks, saying it's something they are focusing on to keep people safer.
All the pedestrian improvements will total $700,000. The money is already in place.
The city hopes to have the initiatives in place by the end of June.