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How Can Salem Crosswalks Be Made Safer for Pedestrians?

What measures would you take to make Salem crosswalks safer for pedestrians?

It seems like almost every month we publish a police log post featuring an entry about another pedestrian struck while crossing a Salem crosswalk.

The most recent incident occurrted at 8:39 a.m. on Christmas Eve, when police responded to a report of a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle on North Street.

The driver of the car was reportedly cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and the struck pedestrian was transported to Mass General Hospital with "obvious visible injuries" after smashing the car's windshield.

We've even published a Voice in Salem column focused on the dangers of navigating the city's notoriously trecherous crosswalks on Washington Street.

Here are some of the recent reader comments we've received:

Sinead O'Brien: Last weekend a man was violently struck by a car on North St. at Lynde. And again a week later? I live on North, and vehicles drive way, way too fast. It's clearly a danger. Something needs to be done.

Carolyn Costain: I agree with you that cars go way to fast on North st. my sister and walk our dogs to 7/11 for hot chocolate during our walk and nobody wants to stop, even when your in the crosswalk. I can not walk real fast because of a bad knee and i got half way across the street when a car was coming straight at me and sped up while i was in the crosswalk" in the middle of the street," my sister got angry and stood right in front of the car that finely had to stop so I could get across. Like down town they should have cameras on North street and random speed checks.

Maggi Smith-Dalton: The walk light at that intersection has never worked properly...not since day one. AND cars, as you say, drive ridiculously fast there, especially when coming around the corner on the ramp from Bridge St.

ACG: Some mornings no less than a half dozen or more cars will go right past me as I stand part way into their travel lane at the 7/11 crosswalk. I would say most of them are doing 40-45. When someone does stop I have to watch out for the person behind them passing on the right. I do see an SPD officer some mornings sitting near the gas station. So there is a presence. Maybe just not often enough?

Jack Carver: That has to be the worst cross walk. Mostly the pedestrians are hidden by the parked cars at the Old Shell station side of the cross walk and just pop out into traffic. I blame both People just walk right out into the cross walk with out looking and drivers are speeding and texting.

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What do you think? Would you support a campaign to raise awareness about crosswalk safety? Do you think part of the problem is pedestrians jumping out into traffic?

Let us know in the comments section below.

pk December 26, 2012 at 11:41 AM
All phone use should be banned while driving. Our lives are worth it. If people are so self-centered that a ban is not feasible, we should at least ban all hand-held devices. While studies have shown that all use of all phones is a danger, a ban on hand-held devices would prohibit texting behind the wheel which is far more dangerous than anything else. From an enforcement standpoint, the only workable solution to making texting while driving illegal is to ban all hand-held use as officers cannot be expected to distinguish calling from texting by a driver in a moving vehicle.
Sinead O'Brien December 26, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I believe in large part this is an issue of speeding. While I agree it's a danger for pedestrians to rush into crosswalks, expecting cars to stop, it's become a battle of wills we must do everything to keep Salem a walking city, and a safe one That said, the best way is to hit offenders in their pocketbook through traffic enforcement citations. Cameras, speed gauges - whatever it takes. But that will require police commitment.
gene December 26, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Get the police out of Dunkin Donuts and on the streets. When is the last time you saw speed enforcement in Salem? In fact, when was the last time you saw anyone stopped for either not yielding to a pedestrian, failure to use turn signals, or any one of a host of violations that could turn catastrophic? For that matter when was the last time you saw a bicyclist cited for riding the wrong way down the street?
Meg Elizabeth December 26, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I have lived off of North Street for many years, travel on it daily, and have never once seen a traffic patrol cop. I will admit to probably driving too fast down that road sometimes; it is easy and tempting to do when you hit a rare moment of no traffic, it is a straight street to speed on, and there are never speed traps. And on the other had, I am often a pedestrian feeling not so safe walking and crossing North Street. I even opt for walking down the sketchy HMA path to the train station then over that bridge. I would rather face off with the homeless then a large metal car.
Justin Mattera December 26, 2012 at 03:00 PM
As someone who walks around town everyday, I see it all. Weather I am walking from the wharf to city hall, to Steve's Market or just for a walk with the dog, I see it all. Personally, I know that drivers around here are awful. For this reason, I use the cross walk signal 100% of the time. I don't care if no cars are coming, I wait for the little white man to light up and then I go. I once saw a women crossing in front of Tavern on the Square with a small group of children. A MBTA bus was doing a turn and the woman and kids just kept walking. The bus had to come to a Sharp stop and beeped the horn. The woman became enraged and said "I'm walking here, slow it down" (the real words were quite worse). So I ask this, what gives her the right to cross the street when its clearly not her turn and yell at the driver who is following the laws? Would it be ok for a driver to simply not follow the traffic lights and drive past a red light? The majority of the crossing walk issues are with the people walking, they need to follow the rules just like the drivers. Yes, there are times when its clearly the drivers fault, however I would say its the people walking who think its fine to cross when, where and at any time they want. I will say again, I walk everyday, I don't drive, I have no sides of the drivers, I just speak the truth and speak what I see on a daily basis. Happy holidays to everyone.
Jason December 26, 2012 at 03:21 PM
It's really simple. PAY ATTENTION! When walking, driving, skipping, jogging... What the hell? Do you not care for your own life and others around you? You think it won't happen? Jeez, and you people pushing baby strollers...what are you thinking? Check before you march into the street! Drivers tend to suck at driving around here. Better signing might help, but only if you try to PAY ATTENTION! It's not that expensive, y'know? Be good out there....
Diane Wolf December 26, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I agree, Justin. Just because someone told us when we were little children that "Pedestrians always have the right of way." doesn't mean we should toss all caution, self-preservation and courtesy to the wind and just cross the street whenever it suits us. It's called personal responsibility.
Jack Carver December 26, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Those mbta buses are another story, Watch them as they pull over in the right turn only lanes on Highland ave only to pull out cutting the drivers in the left straight only lane off.
christine December 26, 2012 at 09:23 PM
How can cops pull cars over safely on North st? They don't even have a place to do traffic surveilence! Hess gas station has so many driveways in and out it is very scary to walk by there. Cars coming down the overpass are going left to go to the dog park they block the flow of traffic in the worst way then people speed up after being stopped waiting for this, they never stop for the people in the cross walk, Please make the bottom of the overpass on the westbound no left turns to commercial st!
gene December 26, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Jack Carver you've hit the nail on the head. I don't know how many times I've almost been hit by an MBTA bus pulling out aggresively and thinking they have the right of way just because they put their directional on. How many bicyclists were killed by "T" drivers this year? I know of at least 4 (one right here in Salem).
Carolyn Costain December 27, 2012 at 12:48 AM
They should put some kind of reflectors dotting the crosswalks because cars don't seem to even slow down or stop when your standing in one.
chester suchecki December 27, 2012 at 12:53 AM
if all of you are wondering where the police are all the time read the article posted here today SALEM'S MOST BIZZARE POLICE CALLS OF 2012
Carolyn Costain December 27, 2012 at 01:01 AM
In North Salem there are more crosswalks with no light signals at all "including the one right in front of 7/11 on North street." if a driver can't see a person trying to cross the street in a crosswalk, than maybe that person is blind and should not be driving at all."
John Merrett December 27, 2012 at 02:12 AM
You can't legislate stupid, - but the Mass. pols will try.
Harry Barker December 27, 2012 at 05:46 AM
In many places in Salem a driver's view of a pedestrian 6 feet out into the crosswalk is obscured by cars legally parked very near the crosswalk. A pedestrian needs to get out far enough to be seen and then wait for the cars to stop. I see this as a common situation and very dangerous. Is the answer to prohibit cars from parking so close to the crosswalk?
Northshore123 December 27, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I can't speak for North St since I don't travel that way often but I have noticed there are a lot of people crossing Derby St. to get to Dunkin Donuts, Brothers, and Beer Works, the latter often after dark, and that area is very dark and hard for drivers to see pedestrians, even those in the crosswalks. When it's dark and raining, forget it. That area needs to have better lighting.
Jason December 27, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I've been hit crossing there on Derby. The purple lighting is part of the problem. Not to mention the idjits that thought putting the light there next to a tree was a good idea. That place is nuts during Halloween, and I've seen many other close calls. Mayor, please implement a change BEFORE we have to read about a child being more than hurt, rather than decide to try it after the fact. Generate city wide AWARENESS. Maybe?
Nancy Santos-Pacheco December 27, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I agree. The more traffice enforcement the better the odds are that these things wont happen as often. Boston St over by the Shell gas station is horrible and even with the cross walk and light its horrible to cross.
Rich Felton December 29, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I agree, the lighting is terrible. The old style lighting doesn't help.They may look nice but they don't give off enough light. People also need to realize with all the over development going on in Salem, it is only going to get worse because of all the increase in traffic.

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