Last month, we wrote about a rogue crosswalk that someone painted at a confusing intersection in the Theater District, shortly after some local business owners had complained to city officials about pedestrian safety on St. Helens Avenue.
Then last week, at least four new unauthorized crosswalks appeared — including three at the intersection of Tacoma Avenue and Division Street and one across 6th Avenue from Wright Park.
Shortly after the vigilante street markings appeared, city officials told The News Tribune they were aware of them. On Wednesday, Interim Public Works Director Kurtis Kingsolver gave the following statement, via the city’s public relations office, about the unauthorized crosswalks:
We understand that the intent may not be malicious, but there are much better ways to seek pedestrians improvements. Crosswalks are an important part of our transportation infrastructure, but these markings are not in line with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices standards and leaving them in place would be a safety concern. Given our limited resources we prioritize new pedestrian facilities in a fair and equitable process that puts the enhancements where they are most need throughout the community.
Then on Thursday, the city issued a formal press release, quoting City Manager T.C. Broadnax on the subject:
City Addresses Illegal Crosswalk Marking Activity
Crosswalks may seem no more than simple stripes, but determining where they go takes more consideration than citizens may think. A recent rash of unofficial crosswalk markings have City ofTacoma staff asking residents to find better ways to channel their desire for pedestrian enhancements.
“We understand and empathize with our citizens’ desire for more pedestrian facilities, but this form of vandalism is not acceptable and can quickly become a significant resource drain and safety hazard. The City will pursue legal action against those engaged in this kind of illegal activity,” said City Manager T.C. Broadnax.
Crosswalk markings create visual emphasis for drivers and guide pedestrians to the best crossing locations. Therefore, poorly located crosswalks lead to safety concerns and the Citywill continue to act swiftly to remove unofficial markings.
Before creating any new crosswalk, City staff use standards from the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to help determine when conditions are favorable. Considerations include: pedestrian and traffic volumes, street width, traffic speed, sight distance, collision history, traffic control devices and ADA accessibility.
Each year, City staff prioritize new pedestrian facilities in an equitable process designed to place improvements throughout the community where they are most needed. Tacoma citizens with traffic safety concerns are encouraged to use the City’s proper channels to request Engineering Division review by calling (253) 591-5500.