City unveils planned Cedar Springs improvements

Hunt, Medrano present plan to Merchants Association; will include new crosswalk lights, red lights

CedarSprings

GETTING THE SIGNAL | A pedestrian runs to avoid traffic as he crosses Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street on Thursday, Jan. 12. The intersection will get a traffic signal under a pedestrian safety plan unveiled by the city this week. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL CEDAR SPRINGS PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PLAN

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

In the wake of two pedestrian fatalities on the Cedar Springs strip in November, Dallas officials have unveiled a host of planned safety improvements ranging from crosswalk lights to a new traffic signal to, eventually, the possibility of narrowing the street to two lanes.

Dallas City Council members Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano, along with city staff, unveiled the changes during a closed-door meeting at the Round-Up Saloon on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 12, with representatives from the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, the Dallas Tavern Guild and other community groups.

The city’s Cedar Springs pedestrian safety plan calls for new flashing lights at crosswalks on Cedar Springs by the end of this month. A new traffic signal at Knight Street — where one of the pedestrians was killed — is scheduled to be installed by June.

“They did come with concrete solutions and things that they’re starting immediately, which is pretty exciting,” Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall said after the meeting. “This is a big deal, and we’re excited about it. It’s a situation where we’re taking something unfortunate and we’re going to get as much out of it as we can to improve the street.”

Hunt said prior to Thursday’s meeting that the improvements have already begun with the recent addition of three streetlights on Cedar Springs.

“I think it’s pretty aggressive,” Hunt said of the plan, “which it needs to be, given the fatalities and accidents we’ve had there.”

In addition to the two fatalities in November, two pedestrians were seriously injured when they were struck on Cedar Springs in December.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, said the pedestrian safety plan represents “some great work from the city and those in attendance were most impressed with the ideas.”

“We had a great turn-out,” Doughman said. “Some ideas may need some tweaking but generally speaking, it was very well received. We will be doing an education campaign soon that we will ask the Dallas Voice to participate in. This will include pedestrian safety rules as well as driver safety issues.”

whittall.scott

Scott Whittall

According to a copy of the plan provided by Doughman, yellow warning flashers will be installed in both directions at four crosswalks on Cedar Springs, near Knight Street and Reagan Street. The two Reagan street crosswalks will remain in their current locations. The existing crosswalk at Knight Street will be moved to the south in front of Bank of America, while a crosswalk will be added between ilume and the city library.

Whittall said the flashing crosswalk lights will be at motorists’ eye level — and will be similar to the ones in place where Knox Street crosses the Katy Trail a few miles away. For the first 30 days, the crosswalk lights will flash around the clock, but after that pedestrians will have to activate them.

The city will also install a traffic signal at Cedar Springs and Knight Street by June, and begin an engineering study Feb. 1 to determine whether a traffic signal is warranted at Reagan Street. Also by June, the city will remove the right turn lane and island on the southeast corner of Cedar Springs and Douglas Avenue.

Other possible additions to the plan include banning left turns onto Cedar Springs from Reagan Street eastbound.

According to the plan, police have already increased traffic enforcement in the area, and Whittall said the Merchants Association has signed off on issuing jaywalking citations once the crosswalk improvements are in place.

“If we’re going to provide you with multiple safe crosswalk areas, they need to be utilized,” Whittall said. “You put your life at risk in an entertainment district if you try to cross somewhere that is not marked.”

Long term, the pedestrian safety plan calls for a “complete street” assessment of Cedar Springs, which could include revising the width of the street and reconfiguring lanes over the next three to five years.

“We’ve been harping and harping and harping on going to two lanes for a long time,” Whittall said. “Anything that would increase foot traffic on Cedar Springs and decrease traffic speed on Cedar Springs, we’re all for.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

For the 4th time in 2 months, a pedestrian was struck last week on the Cedar Springs strip

A 72-year-old pedestrian was struck in the crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street at about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. He was taken to Parkland Hospital and released on Christmas Day.

Lyle Bainbridge said he was crossing the street in the crosswalk and vehicles had stopped in both directions, when a motorist sped around the stopped vehicles and hit him.

He said he was thrown and his head landed in the gutter just inches from the car that hit him.

The driver of that vehicle stopped and told Bainbridge that he was delivering pizzas and was on his cell phone talking to the owner of his store. Bainbridge said the man was apologetic and in tears when he got out of his car.

Bainbridge has a broken collar bone. Doctors detected heart defibrillation problems that may have been a result of the accident. He said he had not been diagnosed previously with heart problems.

Bainbridge, who is from California, is in Dallas for the holidays house-sitting for a friend.

This is the fourth time a pedestrian has been hit on Cedar Springs Road in two months and the third time near this same location.

On Nov. 25, Edward Lee King, 61, was struck by a driver and killed crossing Cedar Springs Knight Street. Wayne Priest, 55, was killed by a hit-and-run driver near Cedar Springs and Reagan Street on Nov. 3.

A 10-year-old girl was hit on Dec. 10 near Knight Street. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

After the earlier accidents, Councilwoman Angela Hunt asked city staff to looks at ways to make the area safer for pedestrians.

Bainbridge said he wanted to call awareness to his accident to push the city to take action. He said that there should be stop signs at the intersection if not traffic lights.

“It takes something drastic happening before they’ll do something,” he said.

When he learned about the previous accidents at the intersection, he said he wondered how many more people will be hit before the city makes safety in this area a priority.

It was unclear whether the driver who hit Bainbridge received a citation. Sr. Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Department, said an accident report was not yet available.

—  David Taffet

City of Dallas posts info on filing complaints of anti-gay discrimination on main page of website

Above are screen grabs from the main page of the city of Dallas’ website. Earlier we mentioned that City Councilwoman Angela Hunt had directed city staff to post information about filing discrimination complaints prominently on the site. So we went over to take a look, and sure enough, there it is. Hunt said she thinks some people either aren’t aware of the ordinance or don’t know how to file a complaint.

—  John Wright

Help Troy Aikman make the Katy Trail safer

In the wake of the tragic death of jogger Lauren Huddleston, who suffered fatal head injuries when she was struck by a bicyclist, Friends of the Katy Trail is kicking off a Safety Awareness Drive with the help of former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Aikman will be on the trail from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, and hey, maybe this will be a good opportunity to show off your purple. From the Friends:

Friends of the Katy Trail will ask Trail users to sign a pledge stating how they will use the Trail safely. The Safety Awareness Drive kicks off Oct. 20 with Troy Aikman and lasts all weekend!

If you want to help with the Safety Awareness Drive, please contact Ashleigh Falk at Ashleigh@KatyTrailDallas.org. Volunteers will ask people to sign the safety pledge and distribute tips for safe use of the Trail. They also will take new or renewed memberships in the Friends of the Katy Trail. We need volunteers on Oct. 23 and 24. at various points on the Trail.

Friends of the Katy Trail and Dallas city officials met last week and are working on a plan to address safety concerns, which will be released no later than Thanksgiving. City Councilwoman Angela Hunt reports in an e-mail:

Last week, I met with city staff and Friends of the Katy Trail board members to discuss ways to make the trail safer in response to Lauren Huddleston’s tragic death. We will have a plan to address trail safety for all users within 45 days.

Last month’s unveiling of Dallas’ Bike Plan was a great success, with over 200 people attending the meeting at City Hall. Please take a look at the draft maps and give us your input.

The updated bike plan will help us address overcrowding on the Katy Trail by providing alternatives for cyclists. Right now, many cyclists feel that off-street trails are the only safe place to ride. As we develop safe on-street facilities like separated bike paths and well-marked bike lanes, as envisioned by the bike plan, cyclists will have more options and we can take some of the pressure off our trails.

UPDATE: Moments after we posted this, yet another accident was reported on the Katy Trail. The Dallas Police Department says a bicyclist was struck by a vehicle at about noon on Monday:

According to witness, a bicyclist stopped at stop sign at Harvard Street and Cole Avenue and then proceeded to cross Cole Avenue, when she was lightly struck by a vehicle traveling on Cole Street with no stop sign. The bicyclist was transported to Baylor with minor injuries.

—  John Wright