New effort aims to halt Main Street pedestrian deaths, injuries

An alarming number of pedestrians killed or injured along one Dayton-area roadway has prompted a study to learn why and how to prevent the tragedies.

A combination of Dayton police and county sheriff’s statistics show at least a half-dozen fatal pedestrian accidents in the North Main Street corridor since 2014 and double that number of people injured.

Last month, 17-year-old Dyimond Wright became the most recent pedestrian to die on North Main. She was hit by a vehicle while in the middle of the street near Carson Avenue with a 23-year-old woman who also suffered life-threatening injuries when she was struck by another car, according to a preliminary investigation.

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“You can’t have those kinds of accidents: pedestrians being hit. We have to do what we can to change that,” said Joseph Weinel, a senior engineer in Dayton’s Department of Public Works, which is studying the problem along with others at the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Last year, Dayton received $70,000 in ODOT safety funding to pursue the study. The city and MVRPC each chipped in $10,000 to help hire Burgess & Niple, a Columbus-based engineering firm, to help find a safe solution to the number of accidents, including hundreds of crashes that don’t involve pedestrians.

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Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said in cases of North Main Street accidents involving pedestrians, the pedestrians often bear some fault.

“The biggest issue we’ve had is the people who were struck were actually in the roadway, wearing dark clothing. A lot of times the lighting is not very good through there,” Streck said. “If there is no crosswalk available or no type of signals, then they are always supposed to yield the right of way to vehicles that are traveling on the roadway.”

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Streck said drivers aren’t blameless, especially when speeding or distracted by mobile phones, making it crucial for pedestrians to use crosswalks.

“I think a lot of people try to take shortcuts and cross the road to save themselves a few minutes,” Streck said. “But as we found out, that can be putting your life in jeopardy.”

The three partners — Dayton, MVRPC and ODOT — will host a public involvement meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in Assembly Room 2 at Montgomery County Children Services, 3304 N. Main St.

Data from 2015-17 show 900 crashes in the corridor: seven fatalities, 117 injury crashes, and 537 causing property damage. The most common type, 28 percent, were rear-end crashes.

Some of the proposed fixes include realigning a dog leg on Main Street in the Santa Clara neighborhood, and adjustments to traffic signal timing at Siebenthaler Avenue and at the intersection of Main Street with Turner Road and Shoup Mill Road.

Other potential improvements to make pedestrians safer include adding high visibility “piano key” crosswalks or raised crosswalks, flashing beacons at crosswalks and better lighting at night.

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Another way to bring down the number accidents is to reduce the number of lanes, a concept called a “road diet.”

“It reduces the capacity of the traffic but it makes it a lot safer,” Weinel said.

MVRPC plans to distribute reflective safety gear at the public meeting next week and later through partner agencies like the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, The Foodbank, Montgomery County Job Center, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

“All of these locations have a substantial amount of clients who walk to their location to access the service they provide,” Brian O. Martin, executive director of the MVRPC, wrote in a recent newsletter.

Anthony DiMauro, 39, died last year at North Main and Wampler Avenue in Harrison Twp.

A 911 caller told dispatchers, “Oh, it’s a person laying in the street and the cars are just running over and over and over and over top this person”.

WHIO-TV reporter Mike Campbell contributed to this story.

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