EDITORIAL: Flashing crosswalk would protect students from inattentive Munroe Street drivers

The intersection of Latham Drive and Munroe Street is dangerous. There’s no question about that.

Nearly half of high-school students report having a close encounter with a car (see story, p. 1), and many have to traverse this crosswalk regularly to get to their cars or Loehmann’s Plaza.

Maybe there hasn’t been a serious accident yet, but with the high traffic flow along Munroe and typical inattention of drivers, one could happen at any time.

Drivers go too fast and don’t stop for pedestrians, especially with no warning of somebody in the crosswalk.

And students, impatient after standing at the crosswalk of the Latham/Munroe intersection for several minutes without being given an opportunity to cross,  often start walking without knowing for certain if drivers will stop for them.

Stop signs and stoplights are excessive measures—the important issue is the safety of pedestrians, and it is unnecessary to slow down traffic when nobody is crossing the street.

So the logical safety measure would be a flashing crosswalk beacon. It’s activated only when pedestrians are present and does not otherwise disrupt traffic.

As an added bonus, it’s much cheaper than a full stoplight.

This particular intersection is not a top priority for the city, which is understandable, considering there are intersections in the city with higher collision rates.

And the city claims to have enough funding for only one or two new signals per year—one or two new $300,000-minimum full stoplights.

But a flashing beacon costs much less than that: in the neighborhood of $15,000 to $25,000 for the entire project. Surely that could fall within the city’s funding.

Maybe the city’s resources truly are invested in more pressing matters. But it really doesn’t matter who funds the crosswalk. It could be the city, the school, the neighborhood or some generous benefactor.

Maybe the school could work with the neighbors to share the financial responsibility.

Another partial remedy might be unlocking or opening the gate on the soccer field to encourage students who park on American River Drive to cross at the stoplight and walk directly into the campus.

Granted, this would not aid the neighbors or students walking toward Loehmann’s Plaza, but it would take care of part of the problem.

We know that the construction of a traffic signal is expensive and the school has little control over the decision, but something needs to be done.

That might mean pressing the city for change, funding the beacon or working with the neighbors—anything that might lead to a resolution.

Regardless of the solution, the current issue remains: when half of the high-school student body has had a close encounter with a car already, there is too much at risk not to do something.

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