Here’s a suggestion to improve walk-to-school safety for a Vaile Elementary School in Richmond, Indiana. I sent this to the Richmond City Planner in 2013. Although it was well-received, Google Maps shows the intersection remains with all the same problems. I’ve since moved to a new town
but found this during an email inbox deep cleaning. I’m sharing it here in case anyone in Richmond finds it useful.
15th Street and South D Street in Richmond, Indiana
This intersection is one block from Vaile Elementary– the children who go there don’t drive and many live within walking distance. Despite being a wide street just one block from the school, there are no crosswalks to cross 15th Street here. A couple things compound the situation to make it dangerous cross on foot. For reasons that are not clear, there no stop signs for traffic traveling on 15th street, although it’s a residential area, and there is busier street one block over– 16th is wider and and has no stop signs along it.
At 15th and D, the view of the potentially fast moving traffic is obscured by on street parking along both sides of the street. To cross the street safely on foot you have to walk about 10 feet into the street. Then, lean forward to see if you are about to get mowed down 40 mph traffic. Finally, cross the street. I lived just a few blocks from the school with small children. I would felt comfortable with my child walking there by herself if it wasn’t for this dangerous intersection.
The cheapest improvements would be to install stop signs, but the best solution would to also install “bump outs” on both sides of the street to shorten the crossing distance by about half. You can see from Google map imagery that the center two lanes are colored differently because travel lanes are worn from traffic while the lightly used parking lanes are a different color. The bump outs would extend the sidewalk to the far side of the parking lane, so you could stand /there/ and see if there was oncoming traffic, instead of of standing in the middle of the road.
Bloomington, Indiana has been applying this pattern to a number of pedestrian routes. The bump-out or “neckdown” pattern improves both safety and comfort by slowing traffic, improving sight lines when crossing and shorting the crossing distance.
I only sketched bump-outs on one side of the road, but they would be
welcome on both sides.
I realize this might inconvenience the snow-plowing that happens a few times a year, but I think the better things to optimize for are daily foot traffic of students and their families.