Saturday, May 2, 2009

Has it really come to this?

It’s hard not to notice the recent improvements to the center turn lane at the crosswalk in front of the entrance to Broadmoor. City crews apparently completed their work on the project this week, but the concrete and asphalt bumpers (and associated signage) have left many of us wondering: Has it really come to this?

Madison Park resident Dave Hutchins, who took this lovely shot of the new barrier, provides his own list of possible explanations:

· A pedestrian safety island?
· A traffic hazard?
· A clever device for discouraging people from using the center
turn lane as a high-speed passing lane?
· All of the above?
· None of the above?
· Other?

If the City has an answer, it’s not saying (or, at least the City’s Department of Transportation did not respond to our request for comment last week). Personally, I suspect that the City DOT is simply recognizing the fact that crossing Madison is so unsafe—even in such a well-marked and lighted location as at Broadmoor—that some kind of shelter must be provided to pedestrians so they can huddle there while waiting to make the second half of their journey across the thoroughfare. Most of us have had multiple bad experiences of practically being run down by both inattentive drivers and those who, upon seeing someone in a crosswalk, decide to speed up in order to get through the crosswalk before the pedestrian can. I hate to say it, but I think that about a third of the drivers through Madison Park do not stop for pedestrians who are at (or, in many cases, in) marked crosswalks. It was not that long ago that an elderly Madison Park resident was run down and killed in a crosswalk about a third of a mile down the road from the Broadmoor crossing. Those worthy souls who recently installed the orange crossing flags at various crosswalks in the neighborhood recognized that we have a real problem in the Park.

Even so, it appears that some people are not happy with what the City has done at Broadmoor. Dave reports that the subject came up at a recent meeting of the Madison Park Community Council. “Several people spoke of their unhappiness about the platform,” he said. “Folks from Broadmoor are unhappy because it makes it difficult for them to make a left hand turn out of Broadmoor onto Madison, especially during heavy traffic times. Folks who use the alley across from the Broadmoor entrance are unhappy because it makes it difficult to make a left hand turn onto Madison.” Others, however, said they were “pleased with the platform because it restricts the use of the center lane for those trying to use it as a passing lane.”

For my part, I vote in favor of the new barrier. I only wish that the City had thought to stock the center island with a supply of nails that the sheltering pedestrians could throw into the path of oncoming cars whose drivers refuse to yield the right of way.

But perhaps that’s just asking too much.

If the City decides to provide an explanation of who requested the barrier and why it became a priority you will find the answers here.

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