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SOSNA updates walkability plan at general meeting

The goals of the plan are to foster a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment, enhance the streetscape and calm traffic.

SOSNA board member Kristen Albee presents information about the organization’s walkability initiative.

Members from South of South Neighborhood Association’s Safety Committee presented a proposal for a new walkability plan in the neighborhood last Wednesday night in an effort to make crosswalks in the neighborhood safer and easier to cross.

“This is pretty unique to our neighborhood that we have a walking plan for our entire neighborhood,” said SOSNA board member Kristen Albee, who noted SOSNA is the only neighborhood organization to have a walkability plan. “We’ve been working on the implementation of the plan for several years as one of our initiatives on the safety committee.”

Albee said the goals of the plan are to foster a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment, enhance the streetscape and calm traffic.

Citing the city’s “glacial” pace, according to SOSNA board member Larry Schaeffer, for getting traffic measures completed, SOSNA is only looking to two intersections — 17th and Montrose and 17th and Christian — as pilots for the project. Both intersections are adjacent to Edward M. Stanton School, and are frequented by students of the school.

“It’s important for children to be safe and provide safe pathways for children to get to school,” Albee said. “What we’ve seen is that there are sometimes very dangerous street crossings, especially for children who are smaller, harder to see when they’re crossing and we also see a lot of rolling stops through the stop signs. It’s hard to see pedestrians when the cars are either blocking or parking in the crosswalks when you’re trying to cross the street and also just a lack of overall safe pathways to these schools.”

The committee plans to make the intersections safer via a process called “daylighting.” Daylighting aims to increase visibility at intersections by using infrastructure such as bulb-outs and bollards to prevent cars from parking on or near crosswalks. Bulb-outs are basically extensions of the curb into the street where the walkway is to shorten the distance pedestrians need to walk to cross the street. The intersection of 15th and South was mentioned in the presentation as a good example of an intersection that utilizes daylighting. At 15th and South, an Indego bike station was placed in the street near the crosswalk, parallel to the sidewalk. The bike station takes the place of where a car would park. If cars were still able to park there, it would be more difficult for drivers approaching the stop sign to see pedestrians crossing the crosswalk, resulting in a less safe intersection.

SOSNA is looking to utilize a similar concept at its pilot intersections. The only difference is that bollards would be used instead of a bike station.

Naturally, some residents weren’t keen on decreasing parking spots in a neighborhood where they’re at a premium. However, according to the committee’s chair, Tanya Seamen, there’s an underenforced city law that states drivers must not park their cars within 30 feet of a crosswalk, which is often ignored. As a result, the bollards would only be taking up space in which cars aren’t supposed to be parked anyway.

For more information about SOSNA and the walkability plan, visit southofsouth.org.

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