Neighborhood members want more traffic safety

by Elizabeth Smith

Cedar-Riverside residents are joining together in an effort to help pedestrians feel safe when crossing some intersections in the area.
A group of six residents met last week to discuss traffic issues in the neighborhood and have started petitioning the city to implement road safety measures like lighted stop signs and painted crosswalks. Along with the West Bank Community Coalition, the group will collect signatures on the West Bank throughout the summer to petition the city in hopes of improving traffic controls. 
While intersections in the area have always been busy, 25-year-Cedar-Riverside resident Rebecca Sandvick said she thinks drivers have become increasingly careless.
“Cellphones have done a disservice to the safety of our people,” Sandvick said.
During rush hour times, she said she stands near problem intersections like Riverside Avenue and 20th Avenue South and counts the number of cars that run or roll through stop signs.
“When I was younger, I would try and yell at these people,” Sandvick said, “but now we need to take a different approach.”
Sandvick said she wants to keep children walking to and from school safe during busy traffic times.
Some University of Minnesota students are noticing the same issue when walking between classes. Accounting senior Alex Van Ess walks around West Bank nearly every day and said intersections in the area can be difficult to cross when cars don’t give pedestrians the right of way.
“Sometimes, I’m crossing the street and end up running across because I thought a car would stop, but they just keep going,” Van Ess said.
When a request to add new road safety measures is made, Minneapolis Traffic Operations Engineer Steve Mosing said city officials analyze the intersection’s usage by collecting data on the amount of vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the area.
The city receives 3,000 requests per year asking for a change, Mosing said, but officials rarely alter intersection signage in an effort to maintain uniformity based on Minnesota Department of Transportation guidelines.
The group doesn’t have a goal for the number of signatures they want, but Sandvick said she hopes presenting city officials with 500 or more signatures from area residents may convince them that the area warrants a change.
While petitioning, the group also plans to educate pedestrians on traffic laws to improve overall safety, Sandvick said.