Crosswalk redesign could keep walkers safer

Walkability Committee members Kim Berry, Andrew Bowmaster, Sue Wylie, and Tom Lowrie discuss crosswalks. Photo by Phil Custodio
Walkability Committee members Kim Berry, Andrew Bowmaster, Sue Wylie, and Tom Lowrie discuss crosswalks. Photo by Phil Custodio

Clarkston News Editor
More crosswalks and better signs would help walkers stay safe in the city, Walkability Committee members said at the Aug. 3 meeting.
Committee member Susan Wylie suggested an X-style crosswalk at Main and Washington, where two traffic accidents took place on July 28, one injuring a pedestrian. In the X design, pedestrians and cars take turns crossing the intersection.
“I’ve seen it in Nashville. It works well,” said City Manager Jonathan Smith.
Intersection modifications would include taking curbs out for wheelchair access.
“I’ll ask MDOT if they do that,” Smith said.
A crosswalk at the Depot Park parking area would help slow down traffic, which would help improve safety if they switch from parallel and slanted parking, Smith said.
They also discussed new or improved crosswalks at Buffalo and Washington; Buffalo and Church; Depot Road and the alley west of Main Street; Church and Holcomb, which is a school bus stop; Washington and Holcomb; Miller and Holcomb; M-15 at Middle Lake Road; and Depot and Holcomb.
Administration will seek three price quotes from painting companies to determine cost, Smith said.
“It’s been 6-8 years since some crosswalks have been done,” Smith said.
They received three quotes for parking lot seal coating and striping to present at the Aug. 14 city council meeting. The work has to be done in summer, before the weather turns bad, Smith said.
Crosswalk buttons and traffic light timing needs adjustment downtown, committee members said.
Traffic waiting for the light on Washington Street west of Main backs up to the corner of Holcomb, and traffic on M-15 backs up south of Clarkston Road.
“There needs to be more green time at Clarkston Road,” Smith said.
Buttons at Main and Washington and Waldon were changed a couple years ago to activate the “walk” signal. Before that, they would do nothing, said resident Cory Johnston.
“The intent was traffic flow – they were originally to allow traffic to flow if there were no pedestrians,” Johnston said.
The pedestrian-activated system causes confusion now, he said.
A four way stop at Washington and Holcomb could help reduce traffic backups, but would require guidance from the Road Commission for Oakland County, Smith said.
Committee member Kelly Gagliardo said they should clean up trees, planters, and signage at Main and Depot to improve walker access.
“Right now it’s just a free for all,” she said.
Some ideas to increase parking could impact walkability, committee members said.
An idea for angled parking in the alley west of Main Street behind the Fed and Edward Jones would create 6-7 parking spaces, but would leave no room for pedestrians in the alley, said committee member Andrew Bowmaster.
The alley has the easiest grade from Depot Park up to Main Street, which those with wheelchair and strollers would appreciate, Bowmaster said.
“We want to make things easier and safer to walk,” he said.
Partnerships with building owners would be required, Smith said.
Long-term ideas under discussion include a pedestrian-only area with gardens and fountains, in the parking lot next to Rudy’s Market or Church Street at Main Street, and removing parking from Main Street and widening the sidewalks.
“I like how we’re thinking out of the box,” said committee member Tom Lowrie.
Closing Church Street at Main would direct more traffic onto Buffalo, Bowmaster said.
“It’s an awkward spot for it. It makes it tough on Buffalo,” he said.
Johnston said it could be part time, perhaps in the afternoons and evenings, after 3 p.m., make it a pedestrian plaza.
“We can’t afford to lose the parking,” said committee member Susan Wylie.
One idea for the Clarkston News parking lot at Main and Washington streets would include the city buying or leasing the lot, with angled parking on both sides and a right-turn-only exit onto Main Street.
Michigan Department of Transportation would have to sign off on the curb cut onto M-15, Smith said.
“It’s something to think about,” he said.
Lowrie said they need to address parking first, which could take 10-15 years.
The next Walkability Committee meeting will be on Sept. 7

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