Pedestrian safety at crosswalks focus of event

The Coon Rapids Police Department is organizing a pedestrian and driver safety event to bring awareness to the problem of pedestrian safety at crosswalks around the city.

Officers from the Coon Rapids Police Department will patrol one of the city’s busiest crosswalks in an effort to educate drivers about the importance of yielding to pedestrians.

Pedestrian safety is critical all year long, but especially important now in the summer months when more people are out walking and bike riding, according to Police Chief Brad Wise.

The event will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 at the crosswalk located in front of Coon Rapids High School, 2340 Northdale Blvd.

This area is a busy crosswalk location during the school year as well as the summer months due to summer activities and community events in the area.

An officer from the police department (in plain clothes) will be the pedestrian example for the purpose of this safety event.

Drivers who fail to yield to the pedestrian officer in the crosswalk will be pulled over.

They will not be issued a citation; instead, they will be given a warning and receive educational information from the officer.

Drivers will be cited, however, if they are violating any other type of driving law.

Background

Coon Rapids has several crosswalks within the city limits, but five in particular are of concern for the police department.

For the last couple of months, the police department has received more comments from residents and councilmembers about drivers failing to yield to pedestrians in these crosswalks, according to Wise.

The crosswalks of most concern are:

• In front of Coon Rapids High School, 2340 Northdale Blvd.

• Foley Boulevard and Sand Creek Trail.

• Round Lake Boulevard and Wedgewood Drive.

• Robinson Drive and 113th Avenue.

• Crooked Lake Boulevard at Thorpe Park, which goes to Marshland Trail, just north of 121st Lane.

The Coon Rapids High School crosswalk has hundreds of students walking across Northdale each week day during the school year.

In the summer months, this crosswalk continues to be a busy location with summer activities and other community events going on at the school, Wise said.

“Northdale Boulevard is a busy roadway with drivers too often failing to yield to pedestrians at this location, he said.

The Foley Boulevard and Sand Creek Trail location is a popular spot for people walking, rollerblading and biking on the trail, according to Wise.

“This recreational opportunity is wonderful for residents, but crossing the street can be somewhat of a challenge if there is high traffic volume on Foley Boulevard,” Wise said.

“The area is also located on a curve, so drivers sometimes have a harder time seeing pedestrians who want to cross.

“The police department wants to educate drivers on the importance of watching out for pedestrians at all marked crosswalk locations, no matter to layout of the street.”

The Round Lake Boulevard/Wedgewood Drive location is also busy due to a recreational trail located in the area that crosses over Round Lake Boulevard, as well as the sheer volume of traffic that travels on this roadway, according to Wise.

The city has implemented a new tool to enhance safety for pedestrians and educate drivers in this area: a solar powered pedestrian sign, Wise said.

The technology operates much like a regular traffic signal, giving a visual cue to drivers to stop, while then allowing pedestrians to safely cross the roadway, he said.

When a pedestrian wants to cross the road, they push a button and wait for drivers to stop,” Wise said.

“The system’s yellow lights flash and alert drivers to the pedestrian’s intentions, then after several seconds, the light changes from yellow to red to indicate drivers should stop,” he said.

“Drivers must then wait for the pedestrian to cross the street. Once that has happened the traffic signal then changes from solid to flashing red, which indicates that drivers can proceed on the roadway.”

Robinson Drive and 113th Avenue has students walking back and forth to the Northwest Passage High School as well as residents in the area walking on foot to a nearby convenience store and sporting facilities, Wise said.

The Crooked Lake Boulevard at Thorpe Park crosswalk provides a link from the park to the Marshland Trail, a popular nature area, he said.

According to Wise, Minnesota Statute (MSS 169.21) requires motorists to yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing a roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection.

The driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped, Wise said.

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