Our new sidewalk project is complete and we’ve got crosswalks galore in Waitsfield Village and in Irasville.
Now we need people to pay attention to them! Far too many people pay zero attention to people waiting to cross the road at the new (and pre-existing) crosswalks, and we need to put our collective minds together to brainstorm ways to increase people’s (drivers’) awareness of the crosswalks as well as ways to increase the visibility of the crosswalks.
Recently Waitsfield, the Mad River Valley Planning District, members of the Mad River Valley Transportation Advisory Committee, VTrans and Local Motion experimented with a pilot program that involved leaving crosswalk warning stands in the roadway 24 hours a day. That program has ended now and a community survey conducted afterwards demonstrated that people felt safer walking and driving while it was underway.
Survey respondents also acknowledged that signs are not silver bullets and felt additional pedestrian measures are needed. They noted that more in-street signs could clutter the viewshed and create additional stress for drivers. Those who responded also advocated for more crosswalks, including one by Lawson’s, the Lareau Farm, Route 17/100 intersection and Mac’s Market.
But what else can we do? At the crosswalk where pedestrian Mariah McGill was hit by a car and killed last year, an eye-catching garden has been planted on the east side of Main Street at that crosswalk. Is there a way that we can make our crosswalks more visible with vegetation, the way some towns use hanging baskets on lamp posts or American flags on utility poles?
There is a group of citizens in our community advocating for flashing pedestrian-activated crosswalks lights to be installed along the length of Main Street. That would not be as nice to look at as flowers, but it could certainly make people pay more attention.
Other things that would help improve pedestrian safety would be for Crosspoint Associates, owner of the Mad River Green Shops, to repaint the disappeared crosswalk lines in two areas of the shopping center. It’s incredibly busy during the week and even busier on Saturdays when the Waitsfield Farmers Market is underway.
A pedestrian-friendly (and safe) community needs to be part of how we brand ourselves.