Boulder Reviewing Crosswalk Accidents

Two Other People Hit Where 7-Year-Old Was Injured

Boulder traffic data shows the rate of auto-pedestrian accidents has risen in certain crosswalks over the past few years.

The crosswalks all have pedestrian-activated flashing lights. The city of Boulder began installing the LED embedded signs nearly 10 years ago. There are 14 in operation now.

The yellow strobes are designed to catch driver’s attention and make it easier for pedestrians to cross. But accident research is showing not all drivers are heeding the warning.

“At some locations we’ve seen an increase in accidents, others we haven’t,” said Ben Cowern, Boulder’s transportation operations engineer.

7NEWS began asking questions about crosswalk safety after a 7-year-old was critically injured while riding his bike with his mom and sister Thursday. The family was attempting to cross 28th Street near Iris. Police say the 17-year-old driver from Westminster hit all three family members when he failed to yield to the crosswalk.

Cowern said two other people were hit by cars in the same spot last year.

The enhanced crosswalk is one of seven where the rate at which people were hit by cars has increased since 2005 or installation dates after that, according to data provided by Cowern.

The most accidents occurred at Baseline Road east of Broadway. The data showed on average there was less than one accident per year before the crosswalk was installed in 2006. The rate has jumped to nearly five accidents, on average, since installation.

Some of the crosswalks, which were constructed to make Boulder more pedestrian friendly, are positioned away from intersections.

While not offering any initial theories about why accident rates have risen, Cowern said areas with more bicycle activity are seeing a higher number of accidents.

He said formal recommendations for any changes will be made to policy makers sometime this year.

The data also showed accidents declined at three crosswalks where modifications were made in 2005. Changes included more signage in advance of the crosswalk, he explained.

A driver told 7NEWS Thursday the flashing signs can distract attention away from waiting pedestrians – a complaint that Cowern said was not common.

Despite the accidents, Cowern said the data shows a significant degree of “driver compliance.”

Cindy Treloar is an avid walker and said the flashing yellow lights may not be adequate.

“Oh, gosh, I think anything less than a red light is risky,” she said

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