Crosswalks of Concern
Bayside mom wants safer routes for children, pedestrians crossing Brown Deer Road
Bayside — Becca Guralnick is a woman with a mission.
Concerned that drivers are failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk at Brown Deer and Regent roads, she has talked to village officials and enlisted the assistance of Maple Dale-Indian Hill Superintendent Mary Dean to send home letters to other parents seeking their support for safer crosswalks.
Guralnick's 10-year-old son, Miles, rides his bike to Maple Dale School from the family's home north of Brown Deer Road, yet his mom drives to the crosswalk twice a day to shepherd his passage across the street.
"He is walking the bike across the street (Brown Deer)," she said. But drivers rarely stop or slow down to allow pedestrians, even children, to cross.
A similar situation exists farther east, where Pelham Parkway crosses Brown Deer Road and children are biking to Bayside Middle School.
"I have also had many people tell me that their children want to bike to go to baseball practice or games at Ellsworth Park," she said.
A two-pronged problem
Guralnick said the crosswalks are not marked well, which is part of the problem. Motorists who are preoccupied as they drive through the area are the other part of the problem.
Both Regent Road and Pelham Parkway are obvious preferences for children to the congested intersection at Port Washington and Brown Deer roads, but drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians are a danger at any intersection.
Police Capt. Scott McConnell said the department has stepped up patrols along the section of that road because of the concerns. McConnell said the department is also monitoring the crosswalk at Fielding Road and Brown Deer, which is used by many joggers and walkers.
McConnell said the crosswalks in question are not located close enough to a school to have 15-mph school zone signs.
State has jurisdiction
Brown Deer Road is a state road, and all signs and crosswalks on the street are under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation.
Village Manager Andy Pederson said the village applied for but did not receive a Safe Route to School grant two years ago. That money would have assisted the village in addressing the concerns at the crosswalks on Brown Deer Road. Pelham Parkway was the focus of the grant at the time it was written.
Regent is a connector street in the village and is busy by village standards, but not busy enough.
"There is not enough traffic (at Regent and Brown Deer) to meet the warrants for traffic lights," Pederson said.
Walk signals cost $2,500
There are stop sign poles that light up when a pedestrian pushes a button to cross the street. Those cost about $2,500 and the village would need six, two at each of the crosswalks.
Pederson said the village will talk with the DOT about the installation of those sign poles as well as the possibility of having 15 mph school zone signs
In the meantime, Guralnick will be at the Brown Deer and Regent crosswalk whenever her son rides his bike to school.
"We live in this gorgeous suburban neighborhood," she said. "Our kids should be able to ride their bikes."
The most important safety tip to reduce pedestrian crosswalk accidents is to be attentive and stay alert while driving. Drivers must:
• yield to pedestrians when crossing a sidewalk or entering an alley or driveway;
• yield to pedestrians who have started crossing at an intersection or crosswalk on a "walk" signal or a green light, if there is no walk signal;
• yield to pedestrians who are crossing a street, such as Brown Deer Road or Port Washington Road, within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection where there are no control signals;
• not overtake and pass any vehicle that stops at an intersection or crosswalk to permit a pedestrian or bicyclist to cross the roadway safely.
The fine for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk is $145.50 and four demerit points.
Source: Village of Bayside
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