Spokane City Council passes ordinance aimed at improving crosswalk safety

Spokane City Council passes ordinance aimed at improving crosswalk safety
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The Spokane City Council adopted an ordinance Monday night aimed at improving the safety of crosswalks in downtown Spokane. Changes include giving more time for pedestrians and making the sign changes automatic. The ordinance passed by a vote of six to one.

Some people who live in Spokane say traveresing the crosswalks has only gotten better over time.

“I’ve been here for about ten years now. And I would say in comparison to when I first got here, they’ve done a great job,” said Carmen Murphy.

The city has made upgrades to its crosswalks, like making many of them audible.

“I like that they announce which way you’re able to go. It seems like they’ve got one everywhere you need to cross, it’s pretty convenient,” Murphy said.

But City Council President Ben Stuckart would like to see more done. He has created an ordinance that would actually put the city’s pedestrian safety plan into action. It would bring some changes to crosswalks downtown.

First, it would change all crosswalk signs to change from “don’t walk” to “walk” automatically.

“Instead of having to push the button downtown to make it turn to walk and if you forget to push the button… they’re all going to automatically turn to walk,” Stuckart said.

They would also all become audible. And as lights change, they would allow several seconds for pedestrians to cross first before cars get a green light.

“You let the pedestrian go first, so that then the pedestrian is in the viewpoint of the car,” Stuckart said.

Some people say you do have to be on high alert when walking sometimes.

“I think a lot of times the drivers aren’t aware that they have to yield to pedestrians. So, I am sort of defensive about that,” said Diane Maehl, who was walking downtown Monday afternoon.

As for the cost, Stuckart says it would be 1.2% of the yearly transportation budget.

“We can do it within our current projects,” he said. “When you replace a road, you replace these with it. We’d have to replace them anyways. So, very little cost involved.”

The ordinance will also require the pedestrian safety plan to be looked at and updated every five years starting in 2020.

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