They're listening at City Hall (or at least reading)
Dear Mr. Maguire,
I read your blog entry about the new pedestrian/bicycle flashers at Congress Avenue and Arboretum Drive/Summit Avenue, along with some of the comments that have been posted. I wanted to give you some background that hopefully helps to explain the city's approach.
First, we had considered designing the system to permit crossings on both the west and east sides of Arboretum/Summit. However, since there is no sidewalk on the west side of Summit Avenue (south of Congress), we thought it was better to encourage crossings on the east side of the intersection. Moreover, adding the push button on the west side of Arboretum (north of Congress) would have resulted in significant additional cost due to the need to trench under the road.
Second, you expressed concern over pedestrians and bicyclists having a "false impression" of safety. By state statute (346.24), bicyclists and pedestrians have the right-of-way in the crosswalk. Unfortunately, many drivers do not observe that. We want to use the least intrusive means necessary to encourage drivers to obey the statute. We plan to monitor the effectiveness of this system over the next few weeks. If the system does not seem to be effective, we have some ideas about other approaches we can try.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Here's my response:
Thanks for your note. I appreciate your willingness to take the time to explain your thinking.
I have to say, though, that when it comes to safety I'm not sure that using the "least intrusive" method is necessarily the right approach.
I avoid that intersection, whether biking, walking, jogging or driving, as much as I can because it is so dangerous, and I suspect that the main reason it doesn't show up in accident statistics as a dangerous intersection is that lots of other people avoid using it as well.
Westbound motorists wing around from Algoma/High and accelerate to get into position so they end up in the lane they want to be in after crossing the bridge. Eastbound drivers come racing down from the bridge, again jockeying to be in the correct lane(s) as they pass the Public Museum.
I don't mean this comment to be flippant at all, but I really think you should turn the signs away from motorists and direct them to bikers/pedestrians with the warning that they should look for another place to get across the street.
In all seriousness, I would love to know more about how you plan to monitor the effectiveness of the lights. I mean you could say that they are effective because I haven't been hit by a car (although I am still in my office at the moment).
But as far as I can tell, nobody has seemed to notice the lights.
Some OPD enforcement of the speed limit and/or pedestrian right-of-way law might help!