Commentary: Let's make our streets in Alexandria safer
The following is a commentary for the Opinion page submitted by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
By Jennifer Erickson, Alexandria, MN
On Oct. 14, 2021, I was involved in a tragic fatal pedestrian accident. Please allow me to share my story and thoughts on how to make the streets of Alexandria safer.
At 7:15 a.m., I was driving to school with my children. It was a dark and wet morning. I turned east onto Third Avenue from Broadway Street (near Counselor Realty). I was paying attention to morning traffic, my phone was in my bag in my trunk, and my kids were quiet. As I neared Hawthorne Street, I looked over my right shoulder to merge so I could exit at Kenwood Street. It was at this moment that I hit an individual crossing the street. Many lives were changed in an instant.
We need to come together as drivers, pedestrians, and city planners to make our streets safer. Here’s what we can do to watch out for each other:
- Develop a habit of noticing every crosswalk on your regular driving route.
- Make eye contact with crossing pedestrians and wave to acknowledge them. Help watch for quickly approaching vehicles.
- Avoid unnecessary lane movement on streets with frequent crosswalks.
- Be extra cautious if you drive a larger vehicle. Pedestrians are two to three times more likely to suffer fatal injuries when struck by an SUV or pickup.
- Be visible. If you are crossing a street in the dark, wear reflective clothing or cross at a controlled intersection.
- Be aware of your location in relation to hills, stoplights or turns which may affect your visibility to drivers.
- Never assume drivers see you. Make eye contact with drivers and do not enter the roadway until traffic has stopped.
Local highway safety committees:
- Add lighted beacons to crosswalks so pedestrians can cross safely in the dark.
- Maintain crosswalks with freshly painted stripes and flashing signs.
- Reduce barely utilized or unsafe crosswalks to emphasize others. There are fourteen crosswalks in 0.6 miles on Third Avenue.
- Make safety a top priority and put plans into action.
Your life is precious, so please stay safe.