Photos by Tyler Sym
A local neighborhood group in Colorado Springs is taking initiative for pedestrian safety. The Old North End Neighborhood wants to increase safety near Colorado College, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Corpus Christi Elementary School, the First Lutheran Church, the Numismatic Museum, Penrose hospital, and Steele Elementary School.
The plan is titled “A Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Plan for the Old North End.” The initiative includes safety-sizing North Cascade Avenue, North Nevada Avenue, North Weber Street, and North Wahsatch Avenue. Safety-sizing includes reducing the four-lane streets into two lanes by repainting the lane striping on the streets as well as prohibiting on-street parking near major institutions.
The plan would improve visibility for drivers. “I like it a lot,” said Maggie Santos, the Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management.
The plan referenced an accident from January 2016, where a CC student was hit and dragged by a car while crossing N. Nevada Avenue. The car in the first lane saw her and stopped but the car in the second lane could not see the student because she was hidden by the first car.
These types of accidents are common on a two-in-each direction street. In the last couple of years, there have been around 30 pedestrian accidents on intersections and crosswalks near the CC campus.
“There have been significant injuries, and that’s what makes it concerning,” said Santos. “There have been at least two to four accidents per year.”
Steele Elementary School has experienced similar accidents.
There have been other proposals for increasing safety in the recent years, including increasing the size of the crosswalks and adding more lights. “One of the main issues now is visibility and students walking in between cars,” said Santos.
Students on bikes and skateboards have to proceed with more caution in order to avoid being hit. There is also talk about creating a new crosswalk on Nevada in order to ensure the safety of students who will be assigned to the new housing CC is going to build.
“It’s kind of a counter-intuitive thing. There are some people in the community that would say the more traffic control devices that you put in there, the more the pedestrians feel that they do not need to pay attention,” said Santos. “That’s an argument that you will hear from a lot of citizens that drive up and down Cascade. Students skateboard across the streets with their headphones in and don’t bother to look both ways or are reading or on their phones and they are just oblivious to what’s going on. The pedestrians are half of this problem.”
The proposed plan by the Old North End Neighborhood is a good start in decreasing the number of accidents around CC, but it will only help resolve half of the problem. Students need to be personally responsible, cautious, and aware while using crosswalks.