By Kate Norris and Randy LoBasso
Over Labor Day weekend, this past Sunday, the driver of a Ford F-150 hit and killed a women walking to or waiting for the bus on the 10900 block of Academy Rd. The person driving the car hit her at excessive speed, fled the scene of the crash, but was later apprehended.
While a suspect is in custody, the incident raises a number of issues.
The street was the recent recipient of a project by the Streets Department. The department tweeted a photo of the fresh road and markings on August 28th, 2018.
The Academy Road project involved a repaving and the restriping of previously existing roadway design. The Streets Department added street markings reading “30 MPH” and “SLOW” at Holyoke and Academy, quickly followed by two “intersection warning roadway indictors” in each lane, as noted in the above screen shot.
However, Academy Road is part of the High Injury Network, a map that highlights the 12 percent of the city’s corridors where 50 percent of the fatalities and severe injuries have occurred.
Given the current condition of chronic speeding along the roadway, Academy Road needs more aggressive Vision Zero treatments beyond pavement markings to reduce speeding and increase safety for the pedestrians who live by and walk on this four lane street.
Drivers take their cues about speed from a variety of factors. While many of them vary, such as weather and traffic, other factors are fixed, like the road width, land width, sight distance, and obstacles (potholes or speed tables).
Absolutely nothing about the design of this road, as it stands, would indicate the 30 MPH speed limit, except for the posted MPH signs. It’s a wide street, with average to above-average lane widths. Drivers can see very far ahead in most sections and with no traffic calming measures to disrupt that, and can very easily pick up speed.
The women who was killed, yet to be named publicly, was reportedly waiting for the bus or walking to the stop. Clearly the bus stop location may have played a role in this senseless tragedy. The bus stop in question, at 10900 Academy Rd, is a midblock stop with no connecting sidewalks. At the stop, Amity Rd and Academy Rd, there is nothing more than a concrete pad that is overgrown with weeds, and there is no safe way to get across the street to where there are sidewalks.
Less than 600 feet to the east, and about 950 feet to the west, there are additional bus stops. But those stops are at signalized intersections which allow safer crossings. It’s confusing and concerning that these bus routes would be designed in a way that steers users toward hazardous waiting areas and dangerous road crossings.
We are concerned with the safety of future transit users on this corridor when they are setup to, because of design and placement, go to a bus stop that is unsafe to get to.
We are concerned with the safety of future cyclists on a road where, by our own observations, high speed travel is the norm. And we are concerned with the safety of all future drivers of this road when there are contradictory messages between posted speed limits and the infrastructure that encourages speeding.