A pedestrian safety island makes good sense for our city

Morguefile/ShawnMSchmidt

I’m once again getting local on this blog, but many can relate with this topic across the nation. In my neck of the woods, planners installed a well-marked pedestrian island on a busy two-lane county thoroughfare that cuts through my neighborhood. Runners, joggers, walkers, strollers and cyclists alike enjoy going up and down the sidewalks that line a good portion of the road on both sides.

For years those who use the sidewalks – I shall call them pedestrians - have been complaining that it’s tough to cross the two-lane road – even in the protected crosswalk that has been in place for years. Their complaints were heard loud and clear. This past summer, city and county leaders did something about the issue and installed an island near where the old crosswalk was located. As expected in any city no matter how small or large the project, brouhaha ensued.

It seemed like the moment the first service truck showed up to build the island, the complaints began rolling in about the project. The angst is understandable. Most automobile drivers were probably asking, “Why is there a backup on this busy road and why is there a backup for a pedestrian island that I won’t use?” C’mon let’s face it: most who were driving through when this island was being constructed probably had those feelings which most likely led to the pedestrian island’s unofficial nickname: Abomination Island.

So why are folks cynical about this pedestrian island? Perhaps it is about questioning the use of public funds for the pedestrian island. Per a report in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the contract is for $130,400 which includes the pedestrian refuge island, mid-block crossing and rapid flashing beacon. That’s understandable about the cost, but the project is far from being a boondoggle.

Maybe some folks cannot stand the fact that the road is slightly narrow in that space to accommodate for the island. I’m sure that anyone passing through the island’s surroundings in a Suburban Assault Vehicle feels the pinch. I feel the pinch in a sedan, but never felt it was a serious issue. I heard that several vehicles hit the island, thus sacrificing tires in some situations.   

And then there are folks who cannot stand pedestrians and cyclists alike, feeling that the roads are for motorized vehicles and no one else. Trust me, we have these types of people all over Metro Atlanta and in most major US cities except for maybe places like San Diego, Portland and Seattle. Those people who wish for the eradication of pedestrians and cyclists feel that San Diego, Portland and Seattle are not in the US.

Back to “Abomination Island.” The island is quite an improvement for what has been there for ages. It is well-marked and will prove to be useful for all of us in the neighborhood. In my humble opinion, the island is a good safety measure. In our neck of the woods, we could use more of these islands.

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