St. Paul launches traffic study to make roads safer for pedestrians, drivers

The city of St. Paul is launching a new traffic study to make the roads safer for drivers and pedestrians.

The public works division is rolling out a Transportation Safety Action Plan, which is a comprehensive review of the transportation system to learn more about the biggest safety issues and how to prioritize improvements in those in those areas.

There’s a focus on pedestrian safety.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to pedestrians who said when they cross the street, they don’t trust drivers to stop.

Walking has been in Mike Walk’s blood since before he took his first steps.

Walk relies on his two feet to get him around St. Paul.

“It gets me outside and gets my legs moving,” Walk said.

Through the years, he’s had a few close calls.

“The light turned red. So I thought, ‘Hey look, the crosswalk told me to walk.’ I took one step and looked and he [the driver] was still going through and luckily I stopped,” Walk said.

But not everyone is so lucky.

“Just as much as violent crime can be a very big tragedy, fatalities are a big tragedy,” Cmdr. Kathleen Brown, St. Paul police department, said.

St. Paul police said during the pandemic, the amount of crashes across the board have increased and speed is driving pedestrian deaths.

“We’ve seen more of that in recent years, kind of that disregard for pedestrians right of way,” Brown said.

Back in 2014, the department kicked off a “Stop For Me” campaign to educate drivers on the importance of stopping for pedestrians at a crosswalk.

The department also teams up with St. Paul public works to make suggestions on ways to improve the roads.

The public works division is kicking off a Transportation Safety Action Plan, which is a study that will highlight safety issues for pedestrians.

“Adding medians, adding bump belts, where we can really reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians and also do things that try to lower vehicle speeds,” Randy Newton, St. Paul public works engineer, said.

City officials explained it’s not just on the driver or the person crossing the roadway to do their part, it’s a two way street.

“Even like my mom said when I would drive, ‘You’ve got to be a defensive driver’. Well you’ve got to be a defensive walker out here too,” Walk said.

St. Paul police is urging drivers to slow down and stay alert around crosswalks and for pedestrians to not abruptly cross the street and give the driver time to stop.