Residents raise concern over 'dangerous' crosswalk in City Heights

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jun 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-27 21:59:54-04

Some residents in City Heights say a crosswalk is so dangerous that it's only a matter of time before someone is killed while trying to cross.

Every day, hundreds of people cross University Avenue. Many of them use one of numerous crosswalks, which all have signs alerting drivers.  The crosswalk at University and Menlo avenues has extra signs.

"Somebody's going to get killed; that's why they put it up. Three people got killed crossing this corner," said City Heights resident David VanBaillard.

The extra signs and flashing lights haven't helped, residents say.  VanBaillard, who lives a block away, experienced it firsthand.

"I've actually been hit almost three times," said VanBilliard. 

One time, he said he was almost struck by a car while carrying his three-year-old son. 

"I stepped out and one car stopped, and a van flew right by me … and I'm talking it was within 12 inches of me. I actually had to step back so I wouldn't get clipped," said VanBaillard.

VanBilliard called his councilmember, Marti Emerald, to share his concerns, but he said he hasn't heard back.

10News called Emerald's office, and a spokesperson acknowledged receiving a call on June 10 from a worried constituent. Those concerns were forwarded to city staff, and she added the city, over the 90 days, will evaluate the crosswalk.

"[A] stop sign, spikes that pop up, something; it's going to have to be done or someone's going to get killed crossing that crosswalk legally," added VanBilliard.

He worries about inattentive drivers all along University Avenue. Last October at University and 54th, a driver in a van ran down a Jonathan Cortez while he was on his skateboard. Cortez was just two days from celebrating his 16th birthday.

"It's just awful," said VanBilliard.

He said there are countless people who've nearly been hit trying to cross at designated crosswalks.

"They've only put this up in January and there've been 20 near-misses -- really bad near-misses," said VanBilliard.

He's calling now for Emerald and other city leaders to come see for themselves how dangerous this stretch of road is.

The city says right now, its traffic department is working with community groups and residents to see what they'd like to be done.

"The goal of the project is to improve safety for all modes of travel on University Avenue between Fairmount and Euclid including Menlo," said city Public Information Officer Bill Harris. "The team's proposals will be presented at the City Heights area planning committee in August."

They will likely include options for controlling and calming traffic to improve safety for all modes.

Emerald's spokesperson added if the city determines extra signs aren’t helping, it may ultimately decide to put in a traffic light.