Drivers and pedestrians encouraged to comply with Pedestrian Safety Ordinance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SGF Yields, the City of Springfield’s pedestrian safety program, is pleased to share a 4% improvement in the percentage of Springfield drivers yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.
“In early 2019, only 25% of drivers yielded to a decoy pedestrian. But since April, an average of 29% of drivers yielded to walkers waiting at the crosswalk. This slight but welcome increase of 4% was mirrored at the two control locations that are tested routinely,” says Traffic Safety Professional Mandy Buettgen-Quinn.
The quarterly assessment, performed by Public Works Traffic Operations division since 2017, evaluates driver compliance at six crosswalk sites with similar traffic speeds and characteristics. Two locations are studied every quarter as a control group. The remaining sites are selected from each of the four City Council zones. Results from each location are averaged to produce a snapshot of driver compliance across town.
This quarter, Traffic Operations staff tested the intersections of Boonville Avenue near Central Street, Grant Avenue near Talmage Street, Bennett Street at Delaware Avenue, Broadmoor Street at Weaver Avenue, Bennett Street at Prince Lane and Lone Pine Avenue near Allen Street. The highest yield rate was at Lone Pine near Allen, while the lowest was at Grant Avenue near Talmage.
Buettgen-Quinn added that most drivers will slow for a pedestrian already in a crosswalk, but very few drivers know that they are required by law to yield to walkers waiting at the curbside of crosswalks.
“If drivers don’t stop at crosswalks, it’s difficult to encourage pedestrians to use them,” she says.
SGF Yields was launched in 2017 as an educational campaign prior to passage of the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, which was approved by City Council in response to an increase in pedestrian-involved crashes in Springfield. An average of 60 pedestrians are struck on Springfield streets each year.
The ordinance provides the ability to fine pedestrians or drivers a minimum of $100 for violating City Code regarding right-of-way in crosswalks, limits the time of day that a pedestrian can cross a roadway outside of crosswalks and intersections (half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise), limits the crossing of arterial roadways and intersections to designated locations, prohibits pedestrians from stopping on medians for more than two consecutive opportunities when crossing roadways, and prohibits certain conduct between pedestrians and drivers on roadways with high volumes of traffic or high speed limits. The ordinance does account for exceptions related to emergency situations or for workers designated to work within the roadway.
“The ordinance prohibits pedestrians from lingering on medians for their own safety, since they are frequently involved when crashes occur in intersections,” Buettgen explains. “Education is key in encouraging both drivers and pedestrians to properly utilize crosswalks and increase safety. We’re hoping the community will continue to respond and make an effort to do better, hopefully contributing to a safer, more pedestrian-friendly Springfield.”
How are the quarterly assessments performed?
Traffic Operations staff stages crosswalk compliance assessments at either mid-block or two-way stop intersections with a clearly marked crosswalk. A staff member poses as a crossing pedestrian, timing their approach to the crosswalk so he or she stops at the edge of the street when an approaching motorist is a safe stopping distance away. The pedestrian subject places one foot in the roadway or bike lane and makes eye contact with the on-coming motorist, clearly demonstrating their intent to cross as is stipulated by City ordinance. Staff then keep a count of how many drivers yield or do not yield to the test pedestrian. Each site is assessed for roughly an hour, tallying the behavior of between 100 and 150 drivers.
In an effort to raise public awareness, the assessment results are posted on a set of educational boards located at the intersections of Glenstone Avenue and Division Street and at Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn Street. The boards are quarterly to reflect the community’s performance.
For more information, please contact Melissa Haase at 417-864-1003 or Mandy Buettgen-Quinn at 417-864-1801.