Troy reexamining safety of Public Square crosswalk

Troy officials are reexamining the crosswalks on the Public Square downtown to see if changes are warranted following complaints from residents concerned about safety. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Caption
Troy officials are reexamining the crosswalks on the Public Square downtown to see if changes are warranted following complaints from residents concerned about safety. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Resident says tall planters pose real danger, city officials say issue is driver and pedestrian inattention.

TROY – Troy officials are asking a traffic engineer involved in the 2018 reconfiguration of crosswalks on the Public Square downtown to review the area to see if changes are warranted following complaints from residents concerned about safety.

The planters are in the middle of each crosswalk as a halfway point for pedestrians. They stand around two feet tall, but this year were embellished with trellises and taller plants/flowers.

Ashley Lutz of Troy told Troy City Council at a recent meeting she thought the planters were a non-issue until an incident in late July when she nearly hit a pedestrian with her car.

“This woman, who was already in the middle of what I call the planter jungle, was completely camouflaged by the 5 ½ foot vining plants. As I rolled through the crosswalk … she appeared out of nowhere, rapped on my driver’s side window … If I hadn’t been going slow, I could have killed her,” Lutz said.

The experience led her to see the problem others had been complaining about with the concrete planters, she said. Although the planters are beautiful, they pose a real danger, Lutz said. She asked for installation of blinking pedestrian signs activated by pedestrians and the removal of the planters.

Lisa Brown of Troy said she “loves the feel of the downtown area” and she visits downtown frequently with her children. “My concern is about the beautiful planters. I believe the planters were meant as a protective barrier ... however the height and girth of the planters have become a security risk for my children and myself,” she said.

She suggested the removal of taller plants in the planters.

A downtown traffic study was done in 2017 by a traffic engineer from Woolpert followed by changes in the crosswalks, including removal of traffic signals in 2018.

The city planned to remove trellises and tall vines from the planters immediately, said Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director. There have been no pedestrian vehicle accidents at the crosswalk following the 2018 changes, he said.

“We are always concerned when driver inattention, coupled with pedestrian lack of awareness creates the possibility for bad outcomes. But ultimately, whether there are lights, no lights, flashers, activated flashers, flowerpots or some other ‘landing zone,’ it’s important for drivers to remember their obligation when approaching a roundabout: yield before the crosswalk and yield after it,” Titterington said.

“As for pedestrians, even though they have the right-of-way, they don’t have the protection that the driver of a 2,000-pound vehicle has. So, what mom told us when we were old enough to walk is as true today as it was back then: ‘Look both ways before you cross,’ ” he said.

Mayor Robin Oda said the flowerpots provide a protective halfway point for pedestrians, as advocated by the federal highway transportation board and Ohio Department of Transportation for design of roundabouts such as the one in the Public Square.

“It is not the flowerpots causing the problem. It is driver and pedestrian inattention. Removing the flowerpots simply puts the pedestrian out in the middle of the street,” she said.

The city has received fewer complaints about the square traffic since the changes, Oda said, noting complaints were made all the time about people running the traffic lights before removal.

“The driver is to yield to the pedestrian and to the traffic in the circle. Pedestrians have a responsibility to also watch the traffic, to make eye contact with the driver. Removing the flowerpots does not fix driver and pedestrian inattention,” Oda said.

About the Author