After a recent accident near the East Grand Rapids Middle School took place, residents raised concerns about the safety of morning commuters.
There was some misinformation floating around that this incident involved pedestrians or bicyclists. This is incorrect as the accident involved three vehicles and was the result of distracted driving. While some facts about the incident have been misunderstood, we are pleased that it has created a dialogue about safety in our community.
As a City, we have to ensure that every decision we make is sustainable and positively impacts our community. It’s important to remember that safety features you may see in one community do not always translate into our community. While on the surface, an idea may make sense there may be long-term consequences we are unaware of. This is particularly important when it comes to safety, traffic and infrastructure – and why we rely on studies and both internal and external experts to guide our actions.
Our Public Works Department relies on the Michigan Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to determine everything from speed limits to pavement markings and signage. They also regularly perform traffic-engineering reviews/studies in areas where residents show concern. They utilize speed/volume studies and actual pedestrian/vehicle accident data in conjunction with State of Michigan standards when reviews are conducted.
There have been a variety of ideas and suggestions raised as how to improve commuting safety in East Grand Rapids. We have reviewed these and have determined a two-prong approach for next steps:
- We notified Consumers Energy, which is responsible for maintaining streetlights in East Grand Rapids, that the light above the Kenesaw crosswalk is out. They have replaced the light and it is now working.
- Public Safety is going to increase its patrols around the Lake/Breton/Lakeside intersection and will be enforcing the no left turn into the Middle School by ticketing.
- We are implementing an educational campaign with the Schools to help students and parents understand safety best practices, including crosswalks, wearing reflective clothing and utilizing flashing lights on bikes.
- We are working to create safety videos that can be shown in the beginning of the school year and in the spring that will focus on crosswalks, bikes, mopeds and driving safety.
- Continued education with drivers on responsibilities surrounding crosswalks and pedestrians.
- Finally, we are working to collect data to confirm whether we are using or not using crosswalk enhancements properly. This will be vital in helping us to continue making fact-based decisions.
While the City and Schools can do many things to help aid in safe commuting, safety is a collective responsibility. Continued dialogue with your children and teens about safe practices while walking, biking, riding a moped or driving to school is critical to ensure they have a safe commute.