Cherry Street pedestrian safety targeted
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 8:16 AM
City Councilor Blake Ewing thinks it's time the city put more planning time and dollars into ensuring that Tulsa's burgeoning entertainment districts are safe for pedestrians.
And that is not a knock on the city, Ewing said.
"Times have been tough. Money has been tight," he said. "And as a city, we really haven't had to deal with this before."
But now as downtown districts such as Kendall-Whittier, Pearl, Brady and others continue to grow at a rapid pace, it's time for the city to take a closer look at how it can keep those congested areas safe for pedestrians, Ewing said.
He wants to start with the Cherry Street area, where JoAnn Carlson, 80, was struck by a vehicle while in the crosswalk at 15th Street and Rockford Avenue on Dec. 15 and later died. The driver of the vehicle who hit her has not been arrested, police said.
In 2012, Cherry Street and other portions of downtown had the most traffic accidents per square mile, according to a recent Tulsa World analysis.
Ewing said he will propose a budget amendment for approximately $17,000 to fund an LED crosswalk on Cherry Street and another one crossing Lewis Avenue near Circle Cinema.
Ewing would eventually like to see the city make planning and funding of such things as signage, street lights, striping materials and flashing crosswalk lights a priority.
"As all of these areas come to life, we are going to see pedestrian issues rise to the top," Ewing said. "I just want to be sure the city is doing their part in protecting public safety."
As part of that effort, Ewing is working to put together a coalition of urban entertainment district associations that would speak with one voice about the districts' needs.
He also plans to meet with Cherry Street property owners and neighborhood residents to see what can be done to improve pedestrian traffic along the busy street.
Ewing said he believes the introduction of angled parking along Cherry Street has slowed traffic and generally been a success.
"But the city hasn't had the money to stripe the street appropriately ... and the crosswalks, in my opinion, are poorly marked," Ewing said.
City Traffic Operations Manager Mark Brown said last week he cannot recall receiving any complaints from residents about the new angled parking - nor has the Tulsa Police department expressed concerns to him about it.
Officer Craig Murray, traffic safety coordinator for the Tulsa Police Department, said police have not seen a noticeable change in pedestrian accidents along Cherry Street in the past year.
But anything the city can do to improve pedestrian safety would be a benefit, he said.
"I think any time you can add something to alert the driver or the pedestrian that if somebody is in a crosswalk you need to stop, it helps," Murray said.
The city is planning to add 18 LED lights on Cherry Street between Peoria and Utica avenues in the next month or so, "which will light the corridor up a lot more than it is," Brown said.
In August, Brown said that the city's striping and sign crew was cut from 11 full-time employees to five in 2010 as the city dealt with a decline in sales tax revenues.
The city's striping and sign crew now includes five people.
The city has 1,249 lane miles of arterial streets to stripe and an estimated 500,000 signs to maintain and replace as needed.
Cherry Street collisions in 2012
Types of collisions occurring on 15th Street (Cherry Street) from Utica to Peoria avenues:
- Nonfatal, no injury, no hit and run: 10
- Hit and run: 18
- Injury: 2
- Fatal: 1
World Staff Writer Curtis Killman contributed to this report.
Original Print Headline: Cherry Street safety targeted
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Parallel parking along 15th Street is shown in a photo taken Sept. 30, 2011. The city of Tulsa has since introduced diagonal parking there. City Councilor Blake Ewing says he believes the introduction of angled parking has slowed traffic. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World file
A makeshift memorial is built for JoAnn Carlson, 80, who was struck while walking through a crosswalk on Cherry Street in December and later died. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World