Mixed signals cause pedestrians pain

The Southerner

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BY DECLAN FARRISEE

The bell rang at 3:15 p.m. Like many other Grady students, I began my walk home by strolling down 10th Street and crossing Monroe. I patiently waited for the walk sign to illuminate, and then began to cross. Halfway across the street, I was greeted by the front bumper of a grey sedan. It wasn’t a hard collision, but I still slammed my hand on the hood instinctively.

I have had other close calls, but none in which I was actually hit. These incidents are due to the faulty design of this intersection. When the light turns green for drivers turning onto Monroe from 10th, the right-hand lane is given a green right-turn arrow. At the same time, the walk signal is given to pedestrians crossing Monroe on both the left and right sides. Because of the walk sign, the pedestrians have the right to cross the road, but drivers, seeing the green turn arrow, think they have the right to turn. Drivers are supposed to stop to check for pedestrians prior to turning, even if they have the right-turn signal. Most drivers, however, think a green arrow means they can turn, so they don’t look for pedestrians as avidly as they would if it were a normal green light. This failure to yield is a serious problem, and I have witnessed many other pedestrians come close to being hit head-on by cars.

The Path Foundation, a nonprofit organization that creates miles of trails and parks in Atlanta, is planning to renovate this intersection and make it much more pedestrian friendly. The signals will be changed so there is a period of time in which pedestrians will be the only ones in the intersection. This should allow them to cross safely without any cars entering the intersection. The crosswalk is going to be widened, and the sidewalk near Park Tavern will be enlarged. These modifications will allow more people to cross in the pedestrians’ designated time. The work should begin in late August and be completed in September.

Renovation cannot begin without permits. The City of Atlanta may make changes to the plans. My question is, what took them so long to get this done? This intersection has been a problem since before I was a freshman at Grady, in 2010. I am shocked that that the City of Atlanta hasn’t made any moves to fix this problem until now. I wouldn’t be surprised if this intersection has a lengthy list of accidents.

Hopefully these plans will be approved, and work can begin soon. The City of Atlanta needs to ensure that all of the dangerous flaws of this intersection are resolved. A new sidewalk and signal system will allow many people, including Grady students, to safely cross this busy intersection.

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