North Texas Daily

Community Expresses Concerns On Pedestrian Safety

Community Expresses Concerns On Pedestrian Safety

January 21
00:11 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

Concerned Denton residents, bikers, pedestrians and parents came to District 1 council member Kevin Roden’s house Tuesday to discuss ways to provide a safer experience for everyone walking the city’s streets.

This meeting came after 23-year-old TWU senior Brenna Charless Taylor was struck and killed by a car on Bell Avenue, which has no sidewalks, last week.

Denton police officer Orlando Hinojosa said Taylor had eyesight issues and was wearing dark clothing at the time. She did not have a driver’s license.

“We want to encourage people to walk around and make it safe, accessible and enjoyable for everyone,” Roden said.

Hinojosa said there have been 123 fatality crashes in Denton since 2003. Twelve of the fatalities were pedestrians.

Roden called the meeting hoping to form a safety assessment task force, a group used to assess the conditions of the roads in Denton and advocate for the safety of pedestrians.

The group discussed four main issues: sidewalk conditions, crosswalk markings, signs and signals, and lighting and speed issues.

“Transportation is underfunded in our city,” Roden said. “Crosswalks and signals tend to be expensive.”

The group proposed fighting the issue by continuously showing up to city hall and asking for more funding towards transportation safety.

TWU assistant professor Dan Krutka said he felt he had no safe way of getting home in Denton.

“We built environments that foster more accidents,” he said. “There’s spots where there’s not even a sidewalk.”

The group also expressed concerns that McKinney Street, a major road leading to downtown Denton and City Hall, is not safe for pedestrians. The high number of one-way streets in town, which cause more traffic congestion than two-way streets, was also a concern.

Planning and Zoning Commission member Devin Taylor explained that retrofitting, or redesigning what was already established, makes improving the roads more difficult.

“We’ve built our roads this way for 60 years, and we’ve got to unbuild them now,” Taylor said.

The group also discussed ways to better educate drivers and pedestrians on sharing the road and creating handouts showing the safest routes for pedestrians to take.

Last month, Denton appointed Julie Anderson as the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator to keep up conversation with the road engineers for better pedestrian safety.

Recently, there was a proposition to create a transportation user fee in Denton. Anyone who paid a utility fee in Denton would pay a small fee for road construction. This proposition was quickly shot down as many saw it as an unnecessary tax.

“People think the government should not have to ask for more money to pay for safer roads,” Roden said.

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