Road runner: Pedestrian safety in Tucson starts to get some attention

2013-03-25T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T11:20:20Z Road runner: Pedestrian safety in Tucson starts to get some attentionBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Road Runner recently received mail and calls from readers who are concerned about their own safety every time they take a walk.

Bunny Critch is concerned by speeding drivers who fly by her "with the thousand-yard stare" on her daily walk in Oro Valley.

She estimates cars stop to let her cross the road - in a well-marked crosswalk - about 30 percent of the time. She started wearing a red baseball cap on her walks, hoping drivers will be able to see her better.

"They don't look either way. They just keep on plowing," she said.

We went to her neighborhood to observe the problem. One of the only vehicles that stopped at the crosswalk was a safety-smart worker from Al Coronado Plumbing.

We can do better, right Tucson?

And then there's Mike Escalante, who is upset with the city for refusing to install a sidewalk in his west-side neighborhood, where kids walk to school in the street next to cars.

As a retired concrete contractor, Escalante said he thinks it would be easy to get the job done.

Having a block without a sidewalk is "a disgrace," said Escalante, who lovingly tends the flowers in the median and trims the roadside trees in his street.

He's been writing letters to city officials about it for two years.

City officials checked it out and told him they can't help. The city Transportation Department offered to put up a pedestrian warning sign. His city councilwoman asked him to stop calling.

But the city is starting to address issues like these with a new Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

That's a victory for the Living Streets Alliance, a group in Tucson that's trying to help us all do better when it comes to pedestrian safety.

"This committee creates a focal point for community discussion of pedestrian issues and a way for walkability to be incorporated into all aspects of transportation and land-use planning," Alliance Executive Director Emily Yetman said in a press release.

"In other words, it gives us a chance to be proactive and get it right the first time, rather than having to go back and retrofit a roadway or an intersection after a tragedy occurs."

While the Alliance is working on policy issues, we can all do our part by coming to a complete stop for pedestrians crossing the street in any marked or unmarked crosswalk. That's the law.

POTHOLES BE GONE

A one-week project to resurface Wetmore Road begins today.

But it's not the part of Wetmore near the Tucson Mall that Road Runner has been getting lots of letters about.

This is a half-mile stretch in unincorporated Pima County between La Cholla Boulevard and Highway Drive, near Flowing Wells Park. Watch for flaggers and officers directing traffic.

In the mall area, Wetmore between Oracle and First is scheduled for resurfacing sometime in the fiscal year beginning July 1 as part of the city's voter-approved bond project.

Additionally, over the next few weeks some areas are getting crack sealing and patching ahead of an upcoming microsurfacing treatment as part of the city's Pavement Preservation Program. They are:

• 12th Avenue between Valencia and Los Reales roads.

• Park Avenue between Irvington and Valencia roads.

• Drexel Road between Campbell Avenue and Tucson Boulevard.

• Sixth Avenue between Ajo Way and the Pima County Rodeo Grounds, and between Congress and 18th streets.

• 36th Street between Kino Parkway and Palo Verde Road.

• Campbell Avenue between Glenn and Third streets.

ROAD Q

"What size motorcycle does it take to trip the left-turn arrows at Pima County intersections?" Mike Rowe asks.

At several intersections, it seems the traffic signal can't recognize he is waiting on his motorcycle, he said.

A: In-pavement detectors are triggered by the amount of metal, especially iron, in the vehicle, and they "sometimes have problems picking up motorcycles or trucks that have high clearance," said Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio.

Detector cameras atop the traffic signals are looking for something big, so small motorcycles might be missed, she said.

She sent staff members to check the detectors at the intersections Mike mentioned to make sure they're working properly and to make any needed adjustments.

Send your Road Q questions by email to roadrunner@azstarnet.com or to 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Please include first and last names.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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