Pedestrians are as safe in Iowa City as they are in most cities. Here’s what the city is doing to make them safer

Pedestrians Cross Clinton Street at the Intersection of Clinton and Washington streets in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Pedestrian collisions in Iowa City have trended downwards over the ten year period running from 2013 to 2022 but increased in 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

The variety of pedestrians killed or injured in collisions on Iowa Metropolis roads has trended downward over the past 10 years, and is down for this yr, however elevated in 2022, mirroring a nationwide development.

Whereas the variety of pedestrians struck by motorists has elevated the final two years, the variety of pedestrian fatalities stays low in comparison with different Iowa communities.

Iowa Metropolis Council members mentioned visitors security and reviewed a 10-year pedestrian collision evaluation throughout a Tuesday work session, partially on account of public considerations and perceptions about pedestrian security within the wake of the dying of a jogger in a marked Iowa Metropolis crosswalk in Could.

In Iowa Metropolis, the variety of pedestrians struck by motorists fell from 32 in 2013 to 11 in 2020, and elevated the following two years.

In 2022, 27 pedestrians have been struck by motorists in Iowa Metropolis, up from 19 the yr prior, in response to a metropolis evaluation of Iowa Division of Transportation information of visitors collisions reported to legislation enforcement. The info doesn’t embrace collisions reported on Interstate 80 or Freeway 218, as they’re managed by the Iowa DOT and will not be designed for pedestrians.

“In that decade, Iowa Metropolis has grown significantly,” mentioned Sarah Walz, affiliate transportation planner for town of Iowa Metropolis. “We’ve had many massive highway tasks, many adjustments, many intersection enhancements. We’ve additionally gone by way of some main, I assume you possibly can say, cultural adjustments,” together with the adoption of smartphones that’s contributed to a rise in distracted motorists and pedestrians, and COVID-19, which accounted for the massive drop in pedestrian collisions in 2020, when many stayed dwelling due to the pandemic.

“However, you’ll be able to see the development was already dropping in 2019,” Walz mentioned.

Nationally, the variety of pedestrian fatalities has been rising, about 13 % from 2020 to 2022.

“When individuals hear these startling numbers nationally, they assume it’s going down right here, and I don’t assume that that’s mirrored within the information,” Walz mentioned.

Traffic at the intersection of Burlington and Gilbert streets in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Pedestrian collisions in Iowa City have trended downwards over the ten year period running from 2013 to 2022 but increased in 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

As of Monday, no less than eight pedestrians had been struck by motorists this yr. That features 45-year-old Corey Hite of Cedar Rapids, an Iowa Nationwide Guard soldier, who died from his accidents after being hit by a North Liberty teen driving a sport utility automobile whereas jogging on Could 22.

It’s the primary pedestrian fatality reported in Iowa Metropolis since 2017.

Iowa Metropolis has among the many lowest pedestrian fatalities based mostly on its inhabitants and miles of roadway.

⧉ Associated article: Iowa cities work to maintain pedestrian fatalities low

From 2017 to 2021, town had the bottom variety of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants and automobile miles traveled than Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque and Waterloo. Cedar Falls reported no pedestrian fatalities, in response to town report.

The variety of pedestrians killed in crashes on Iowa roads fell final yr, bucking a nationwide development. And got here after two years of elevated pedestrian deaths within the state.

Pedestrians and drivers should ‘strategy intersections with care’

Unsurprisingly, lots of the pedestrians have been struck by motorist in high-traffic areas downtown and across the UI campus the place many individuals stroll, jog, bike and run to and from work, dwelling, class and areas bars, eating places, outlets and companies. Some collisions have been additionally clustered across the Hy-Vee retailer on First Avenue, South East Junior Excessive and the procuring heart close to Mormon Trek Boulevard.

Whereas 57 % of pedestrian collisions occurred at road intersections, a majority (54 %) of pedestrian collisions leading to dying or severe damage occurred at midblock areas, in response to town’s evaluation.

Multiple-third of Iowa Metropolis collisions that resulted in severe damage or dying have been attributed to improper crossings or darting or dashing into the roadway, Walz mentioned.

“I don’t assume our streets are unsafe, however I feel there are unsafe conditions,” she mentioned. “And also you do should be alert. It’s incumbent on everybody to do their half. As a pedestrian, as a bicyclist, as a motorist, all of us should strategy intersections with care, even when we’ve the inexperienced mild.”

Two of the 4 pedestrian fatalities Iowa Metropolis has seen since 2013 passed off alongside the Iowa Freeway 1 and U.S. Freeway 6 industrial hall, parts of which lack sidewalks, curb cuts and pedestrian alerts and crosswalks.

Pedestrians cross Burlington Street at the intersection of Burlington and Clinton streets in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Pedestrian collisions in Iowa City have trended downwards over the ten year period running from 2013 to 2022 but increased in 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Nationwide, almost two-thirds of deadly pedestrian collisions happen on non-freeway arterials, just like the Freeway 1 and 6 hall, with three lanes of visitors or extra, velocity limits over 30 mph, and with stretches of the highway flanked by retail, groceries or different important companies.

Kent Ralston, transportation planner for town of Iowa Metropolis, mentioned town has put aside cash for a design examine to take a look at enhancements to the Iowa Freeway 1 and U.S. Freeway 6 and Riverside Drive intersection.

Sidewalks are required with all new improvement as a part of town’s improvement and subdivision requirements. Areas missing sidewalks are addressed throughout different, complementary infrastructure tasks as properly by way of town’s sidewalk infill program, Ralston mentioned.

Metropolis engaged on designs that improve pedestrian security

Ralston mentioned town has made a concerted effort to design streets that improve pedestrian security, from ensuring there are well-lighted crosswalks in locations the place individuals often stroll, to including highway components that make drivers decelerate — like roundabouts and velocity bumps.

Walz including the “overwhelming majority of our road miles are 25 miles per hour.”

Ralston mentioned town has been working lately so as to add highway options in busy pedestrian areas that draw consideration to pedestrians. These embrace crossing indicators with flashing lights that activate when a button is pushed, in addition to indicators to alert drivers to high school strolling routes and often-used pedestrian crossings.

A pedestrian signal at the intersection of Burlington and Gilbert streets in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Pedestrian collisions in Iowa City have trended downwards over the ten year period running from 2013 to 2022 but increased in 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

The Johnson County Metropolitan Planning Group carried out an evaluation on the intersection of Melrose Avenue and Kennedy Parkway in Iowa Metropolis, the place Hite was hit and killed in Could. No main adjustments are being made because of this, however the metropolis has ordered new crosswalk signage.

At high-volume roadways, town has put in a median with security islands, or refuge space, the place pedestrians can cease earlier than ending crossing a multilane highway. They’re usually used at loca­tions the place speeds and volumes make crossings prohibitive, or the place three or extra lanes of visitors make pedestrians really feel uncovered or unsafe.

Alongside high-traffic corridors, town makes use of landscaping, planters and different obstacles and bodily cues to separate vehicular visitors from pedestrian areas, discourage jaywalking and direct pedestrians to protected crossings.

Lately, town has additionally labored to transform roadways from 4 lanes to a few, together with on First Avenue and Mormon Trek Boulevard, with a middle left-turn lane and bike lanes.

Walz mentioned metropolis officers plan to make use of the data gathered to guage prime pedestrian collision areas and corridors for potential countermeasures. That features reviewing all path and midblock crossings for uniform signage, lighting, crossing areas and different measures, gathering pedestrian visitors counts at crossings to supply extra correct crash charges, and evaluating current 4-lane to 3-lane conversions.

Council member Megan Alter requested metropolis employees to additionally contemplate rising outreach and schooling, together with on the UI campus, to lift public consciousness of the must be cautious and conscious of 1’s environment and get rid of distractions to enhance security, each for pedestrians in addition to motorists.

“I’m trying on the statistics … and there may very well be extra vigilance,” Alter mentioned.

Comments: (319) 398-8499; [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *