The City of Minneapolis is asking citizens for input on the signals at major intersections of Hiawatha Avenue. Yesterday evening, when the “smart” pavement sensor recognized my car and gave me a green light, I passed a pedestrian stranded on a porkchop island who should have had a Walk signal as part of that light phase. As I drove past him, I saw him glance up at the signal, confused as to why he still had a Don’t Walk. I glanced up at the thermometer in the console of my warm car. It read seven degrees. For all I know, by the time I rolled in to my garage, he may have still been standing on that porkchop island. It’s time to restore dignity to being a pedestrian in this city. It’s time to make all Walk signals automatic at Hiawatha Avenue. No more applying to cross the street. It’s also time to test Leading Pedestrian Intervals at one or more crosswalks.
Previous posts of mine have advocated for various improvements, including rethinking Hiawatha Avenue itself as a more urban street. While last summer’s crosswalk improvements were a “step” in the right direction, including restoration of a missing crosswalk at 46th Street, much is still lacking. For starters, Walk signals need to become automatic. Pedestrians needn’t apply to cross the street, especially near light rail stations.
Oddly enough, while those crosswalks were being improved in summer 2014, there was a period of about one month when the Walk signals were indeed automatic. It was the time between the new curbs and pavement going in and the pedestrian application buttons being turned on. The world did not stop spinning. We have inadvertently proven it works! Now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
As a pedestrian who crosses Hiawatha Avenue on foot, I say now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
As a cyclist who can’t decide whether it is best to cross Hiawatha in a lane of traffic or in the crosswalk, I say now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
As a father trying to raise his children in the city they can explore and enjoy before age 16, I say now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
As a Blue Line rider who stands at the 38th Street Station and sees countless pedestrians visibly confused about when and how to cross the street due to existing signals, I say now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
As a taxpaying citizen of the City of Minneapolis, whose government rightly says it prioritizes pedestrians, I say now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
As a driver willing to wait just a little longer in traffic, I say now is the time to make the Walk signals automatic.
Call 311 or email the City of Minneapolis today at HiawathaSignals@minneapolismn.gov.
This was crossposted at Joe Urban.