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Pedestrial Problems

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On Sunday October 2, Ross Bigley left the Brady Street Pharmacy at 7:30 pm. He had already walked halfway across Brady Street and was waiting for the westbound motorist to stop to let him cross the rest of the way when he was hit from behind by an eastbound motorist. The blow knocked him to the ground, and the rear tire of the vehicle drove over his ankle, breaking it in two places. The driver did not stop. The following day, a boy on a bicycle was struck by a motorist at the same intersection. This is the same corner where Mary Glorioso was killed a year and a half ago. In May, the City Of Milwaukee announced a program aimed at pedestrian safety. The plan included lower speed limits, new mid-street crosswalk signs, bump-out curbs for busy intersections, as well as higher tickets. But six months later, the problem still exists. Many drivers use Brady Street as a thoroughfare between the east side and downtown. But the street was never intended to carry that volume of daily traffic. The speed limit on Brady Street is 25 miles per hour, but given the number of accidents, that seems too high. In other cities, speed limits have been lowered to 15 mph in problem areas, followed up by strict police enforcement. After a few weeks of writing tickets, problems diminished. Bump-outs have been proposed for the Astor and Brady Street corner, but some local businesses do not want them. They feel it could create a greater problem by bottlenecking an intersection that gets deliveries on all sides and also has a bus stop. Another problem that needs to be addressed is the palpable animosity between some drivers and pedestrians in the area. Upon examination of the mid-street pedestrian signs, you can see the amount of damage they have incurred in a few short months. They have been hit so many times, it can’t be an accident. People have reported seeing motorists playing some kind of game, using the crosswalk signs as targets. Some signs have been knocked entirely out of the intersection For the sake of non-scientific inquiry, I created a posting on the local craigslist.com bulletin board in their Rants and Raves area. I asked for comments, pro- or con- regarding the Brady Street pedestrian situation. In four hours, I received seven responses. Drivers accused pedestrians of jumping out into traffic and not crossing in the crosswalks, while pedestrians accused drivers of not paying attention or caring about the new crosswalks or speed limits. One post from a driver said it’s a case of survival of the fittest. “…your sorry two-legged ass yields to my car. Yield to the (expletive deleted) who is gonna kill your ass if you don’t,” while a pedestrian suggested closing off the entire street to motorists, like State Street in Madison. The original initiative was a good start, but we need to follow it up with enforcement or the problems and injuries will continue. The whole situation begs the question, if you had an elderly parent, like the folks at nearby Arlington Court, or if your child was coming home from school, how comfortable would you feel knowing they will have to cross the busy Brady Street intersections? Many think it’s just a matter of time before someone else gets hit. Thanks to the Times Cinema and local art galleries who have raised money through benefits and gallery night to help Ross with his rent and bills. Hopefully we can get another one together soon.
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