Cittaslow Sebastopol, in conjunction with the City of Sebastopol and Sebastopol Police Department, is looking for public feedback about recent pedestrian safety initiatives and planned programs in the future. Go to SebSurvey.org to share your thoughts. Read on to learn more about the topics covered in the survey.
Three areas for improvement
In January of 2018, the City of Sebastopol, the Sebastopol Police Department and Cittaslow Sebastopol launched a study group to look at pedestrian safety initiatives across the country and determine which were successful enough to be worth adopting in Sebastopol. Drawing upon resources made available through Sebastopol’s membership in the nationwide Walk-Friendly Network, the study group identified three areas for improvement: engineering, education and enforcement.
Engineering. Already there are several initiatives in progress, including the new HAWK, a pedestrian-activated traffic light, at Bodega Avenue and Nelson at the entrance to the Experiment Farm and Burbank Heights and Orchard; flashing lights at Bodega Avenue and Ragle Road; and a grant, co-submitted with the County, for pedestrian and bike improvements along Ragle Road.
We are looking for feedback from the public on priorities for upcoming projects identified in the general plan. For instance, is it more important to fill in gaps in sidewalks so pedestrians do not need to walk in the street; create a bypass for Highways 12 or 116; or make Main Street and Petaluma Avenue two-way streets again? Voice your opinion through the survey.
Education. Pedestrian collisions typically involve inattention or neglect of right-of-way laws by drivers andby pedestrians. There are numerous possibilities for educational initiatives. For drivers, educational efforts could concentrate on speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, distracted driving (e.g., texting or talking on the phone), passing a car stopped at a crosswalk, or running a red light.
For pedestrians, education programs could focus on using the crosswalk signals; obeying the “Don’t Walk” signal; relying too heavily on the flashing lights; stepping onto the roadway without checking for cars; distracted walking (e.g., texting while crossing the street); or crossing in unmarked, unsafe locations (e.g., mid-block).
Which strategies seem most important to you? Do you have any ideas for a good education campaign, including ideas for bumper stickers, stencils on the sidewalk, radio spots or signs at intersections? Share your ideas through the survey.
Enforcement. While speeding may not cause pedestrian accidents, it definitely plays a role in the severity of the consequences for pedestrians. In the last five years, the Sebastopol Police Department has given out 2,722 speeding tickets. The department also has five radar signs that inform drivers of their speed, relative to the posted limit. In addition, it has the Slow Down Kitty, created by local sculptor Patrick Amiot, which can be requested for a neighborhood where speeding is a problem.
The study group identified three other enforcement activities that have been implemented around the country and found to have a strong impact on improved safety for pedestrians.
- A traffic hotline. Now you can call the main police number, 707-829-4400, and ask to be connected to the traffic hotline. If an officer is not available at the time, you can leave a message, describing the traffic incident you wish to report. There is also now a dedicated email for reporting traffic concerns: email@example.com.
- Crosswalk Stings. The next time you see a pedestrian in the crosswalk, it may be an out-of-uniform officer. Drivers who do not yield appropriately will receive a ticket. The city of Gainesville was able to improve compliance with right-of-way laws by 67% using crosswalk stings. Sebastopol Police have adopted the same strategy. (See the August 15, 2018, Sonoma West article on crosswalk stings at https://bit.ly/2w2Zjg8.)
- Ask a Traffic Cop. Often people are confused about who has right of way when. For instance, how far across the street must the pedestrian be before a driver can proceed through the crosswalk? The survey has a place to collect your questions. Answers will be delivered through a blog, social media, the city newsletter or other forms of communication. Now’s your time to ask!
Please go to SebSurvey.org to share your thoughts. The survey will close on Oct. 31.
If you have questions about the survey, contact Cittaslow Sebastopol at firstname.lastname@example.org.