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Let's make Alexandria a pedestrian-friendly community

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Take a walk down Broadway Street in Alexandria, and then head up 3rd Avenue. You'll encounter quite a number of traffic control devices to support safe routes for pedestrians. You'll see painted crosswalks, pedestrian warning signs and signals.

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All this is terrific. But if motorists and pedestrians don't know the laws, comply with the laws, and use common sense, they don't do much good, nor encourage a pedestrian-friendly community.

Roadways are for all users and the intent has been the same from early footpaths to today's highways - to move people and goods from place to place.

There are more users of the roadways than just motor vehicles. Road users include people that travel by car, motorcycle, transit, bicycle and on foot. However, in today's fast-paced society motorists tend to ignore this and somewhat bully those that are moving by bike or on foot.

Pedestrians are legitimate users of the transportation system, and have a right to cross roads safely. Motorists have a responsibility to be courteous to pedestrians.

Give pedestrians a "brake." Stop! Allow them to cross the street safely. In fact, it's more than a motorist's responsibility. It's the law.

In 1996 Minnesota made it a little easier to be a pedestrian by passing a law requiring drivers to stop and yield right-of-way to pedestrians in a marked crosswalk or at an intersection where there is no traffic control signals in place.

A crosswalk exists at any public street intersection, whether marked with paint or unmarked. The driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped.

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was easy for most people to walk to school or the corner store. However, walking for transportation declined over the years as we grew into a motor vehicle society.

Now, more than ever, pedestrian-friendly, livable communities are a high priority of local and state government. A livable community is one that provides safe and convenient transportation choices to all citizens, whether it's by walking, bicycling, transit or driving.

With childhood obesity and diabetes crippling our youth and burdening our futures, we need to get back to the true purpose of the transportation system. That is for moving people, not just cars.

As motorists and pedestrians we each must do our part in order to have a pedestrian-friendly, livable community, one that is safe and easy for both to co-exist on roadways.

As a motorist, failing to stop at a crosswalk for a pedestrian, blocking the crosswalk with your vehicle, and turning into a crosswalk when a pedestrian is using it are just a few of the common driver violations that you should be aware of.

As a pedestrian, cross safely by using crosswalks, cross at the corner, or cross at other designated crossing areas; obey pedestrian signal indicators; and wear reflective materials when walking at night.

If each pedestrian and motorist does their part, think of the impact it could make on our pedestrian-friendly community.

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