Early this month, a neatly painted four-way crosswalk appeared at the intersection of Melwood and Finland Streets. This intersection is one of the problem spots in a section where residents have been suffering the impact of speeding and careless drivers for years. The crosswalk, it turned out, wasn’t done by the City, but by an anonymous resident.
While there was some concern that this vigilante action could jeopardize the formal request the PHCA had made for crosswalks at this intersection, there is also sympathy for what is clearly a sense of frustration about the situation. PHCA president Alexis Miller contacted the City to let them know that while the organization didn’t initiate this action (and doesn’t know who did), we share the same concern that motivated it.
In response, City officials shared the following information with us:
1. It is illegal for anyone to install a traffic control device in the public right of way other than the city or its designee. For that reason, the crosswalk should be removed.
2. The crosswalks are too narrow and do not align with the handicap ramps; aligning ramps within the crosswalk is an ADA requirement.
3. The City does not have the manpower to paint crosswalks at every four-way stop intersection; they try to paint ones in school zones and locations with high pedestrian volumes.
4. Drivers not obeying stop signs is a matter for enforcement.
PHCA President Alexis Miller is still communicating with the City and has made it clear that residents are obviously very concerned about safety. The PHCA will continue to lobby for painted crosswalks at Melwood & Finland and Dobson & Hancock because this would help pedestrians feel more safe (regardless of enforcement issues). Crosswalks send a clear message to automobiles that pedestrians are important, and they give pedestrians a sense of security.
At least one resident fully supports the new crosswalk, illegal or not — they posted this note on the community board at the intersection:
Now we are waiting to see if the City comes to remove the handpainted crosswalk. In the meantime, we would welcome feedback from any residents living nearby as to whether the crosswalk seems to be slowing down drivers.
(Photos by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)