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City's Main Intersection Safe for Pedestrians? Many Answer Resounding 'No'

A handful of community members turned out to Monday night's North Canton City Council meeting to speak their minds about pedestrian safety at the intersection of Main and Maple streets

Librarians from the have horror stories about crossing the intersection of Main and Maple streets.

And Debbie Goldthorpe, associate executive director of the , says she goes out of her way just to avoid it.

You can imagine the danger when you're bringing 30 to 60 children from the Y childcare center on Charlotte Street to the YMCA near Main and Maple streets, she said.

"It is true that our staff there makes somewhat of a human line, daring anyone to hit them," Goldthorpe said. "My concern, personally, is I feel safer crossing illegally in front of to get over to the Y ... and it's because of the turn lanes."

Goldthorpe was one of a handful to speak about the issue at Monday night's North Canton City Council meeting, where Council approved a resolution regarding the Main Street Traffic Signal Coordination Project. The resolution authorizes the the purchase of the equipment but does not set the traffic flow. Traffic flow, crosswalks and other related pedestrian safety issues would be determined after studies, Council said.

Goldthorpe said she's seen many cars, when turning left or right through the intersection, try to make the turn before she can pass through the crosswalk. 

She commended cities like Portsmouth, NH, where all lights are red at one time. The city also has a diagonal crosswalks.

Sandi Lang, director of the North Canton Public Library, said pedestrian safety is a particular concern to her employees and patrons. She's seen safety issues firsthand.

"People take that turn, and they really think that the pedestrian, even though the person has that walk sign, is there as an intruder," she said.

Council members also heard from Doug Lane, president of the , who said the city has many reasons to increase pedestrian safety. The  aims to bring more people downtown to an amphitheater (which ), to the Main Street Grille and to other attractions that will likely follow as a result of the Master Plan.

North Canton resident Melanie Roll suggested traffic stop in all four directions so that pedestrians may cross the street in a minimum of 10 seconds. That way, it alerts all motorists that a pedestrian is in a crosswalk.

"With the current traffic light system, citizens have a false sense of security, thinking if the walk sign is illuminated, cars will not cross into their path," Roll said. "But indeed cars can and do enter into the crosswalk when the walk sign is illuminated."

City Engineer Jim Benekos said the traffic system the city will purchase allows for changes.

"The flexibility is there," Benekos said. "We can change it up however we decide as a community."

The equipment, which costs more than $800,000, is covered by grants — 80 percent from the federal government and 20 percent from the state. It includes camera technology to detect vehicles at the stoplight and timers to show pedestrians how many seconds are left to make it through the crosswalk safely.

Ward 3 Councilman Tim Fox applauded Roll for getting the word out about the pedestrian safety issues so that community members could speak about it at the meeting.

"I'm happy with the folks who came out to support the intersection project," Fox said. "That's how lower-level city government is supposed to work. If you want something passed, if you want things to move along, show up and get involved."

Morgan Day (Editor) March 27, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Really? No suggestions on how to make intersections more pedestrian friendly? North Canton, I'm surprised!
Ken Palosi March 28, 2012 at 12:14 AM
How about supplying starting blocks and track shoes for people wanting to cross. The pedestrian light could be changed to show a starter's gun. I cross that intersection a lot in my walks and as a former street designer I know that the problem isn't necessarily the intersection; it is the drivers in a hurry to turn that don't want to give pedestrians the right of way. Add to that the drivers who floor it when the light is turning red and you have an accident waiting to happen. I usually walk up the street and cross at the church and library intersection when I want to cross Main St. Crossing Maple isn't as bad but one still has to be wary of inconsiderate drivers.
james sullivan March 28, 2012 at 12:48 AM
a study shoud be made as to when the intersection is the busiest and set the light to operate with all four lights red for fifteen seconds at a time.yes it sounds like a long time but it would allow handicap people to cross.Redlight cameras are a possible choice but i am not for them.
Ken Palosi March 28, 2012 at 01:53 AM
You are on the right track there James. The only real solution is to completely close all four sides of the intersection. This could be done with the crossing buttons, if they were kept in working condition and maintained frequently. The problem is; there would soon be many more complaints from motorists who were inconvenienced in being slowed down trying to get somewhere they probably didn't need to go to anyhow.
Laura Z. March 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I definitely think stopping all four sides of traffic is the way to go. Maybe having one of those crossing signals (a lit up picture of a walker hanging above the intersection) would help. It is definitely intimidating crossing there and I'm from Columbus! If motorists have a problem with it, there are surely other routes to take.
Morgan Day (Editor) March 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Thanks for the input, Laura! I'm going to copy/paste your comment into our new story from today to hopefully kick off a discussion there. That update includes a poll. Also, it was really great meeting you Sunday!

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