To Michael Blum, an Antioch Road crosswalk that links Overland Park City Hall with the city police station seems “unnecessary and dangerous,” especially when crosswalks are in place at two nearby intersections.
“Are the pedestrians too lazy to walk to those intersections, controlled by traffic signals?” he asked. “Perhaps many years ago when the Internet was not as robust, employees needed to carry items across the street and thus the need for a crosswalk. Today, it represents a significant safety hazard.”
Blum said a crosswalk in the middle of the block invites sudden stops and rear-end collisions.
“I would not stand the chance of even walking The Watchdog across Antioch at that crosswalk.”
City officials looked at old maps and figured the crosswalk dates to the mid-1980s when City Hall was expanded.
Such crosswalks exist, said city traffic engineer Brian Shields, when two generators of pedestrian traffic are close to each other. One connects Overland Park Regional Medical Center with a medical building across 106th Street, he said, and another links Blue Valley Northwest High School with a parking lot south of 133rd Street.
Some trail crossings are in the middle of the block, though generally on quieter streets.
Shields said the Antioch crosswalk still serves a purpose.
“Even though we are in the digital age, there is still a lot of back-and-forth traffic each day,” Shields said. “Try thinking of the crosswalk as efficiency in government: taking less time to go between buildings allows us to be more productive.”
As for safety, The Watchdog perused city ordinances that might apply to mid-block crosswalks, and the law says both drivers and pedestrians need to take responsibility.
One section says that when signals aren’t in place or aren’t operating, drivers must yield — by slowing or stopping if necessary — to a pedestrian in or entering a crosswalk. However, pedestrians may not “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, jog or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
Being an alpha type, The Watchdog constantly tugs at his people when leashed. But at places like this, the human goes first.
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