Monday, September 4, 2017

It Really Isn't That Hard

Indianapolis has  a treasure for those who want to walk, job, bike or just enjoy some green space in the city.  The Monon trail, built on the land that used to house the Monon Railroad runs for 18 miles from just north of downtown to Westfield.  It crosses high traffic flow roads and winds through the backyards of neighborhoods.  Used by countless people daily, the Monon is a jewel of our community.  However in my area of town there is a problem.  As the population of Westfield, IN, where I live, grows there are more and more cars who drive on roads that cross the Monon.  Now the rules about driving is simply to slow down and yield is someone is in the crosswalk as you approach.  If no one is the crosswalk you drive normally (but be alert as you would where anyone crosses).  But that simple set of rules has become a problem for two reasons.  The first that while there are stop signs on the trails and people walk, jogging, or biking on the trail must stop at street crossings, some people don't.  Second, there are people who who are driving who see people waiting for traffic to clear on trail, stop and wave them on.  This is dangerous for drivers who are not expecting to stop, it screws up traffic patterns that could cause an accident due to back ups and of course, cars coming in the other direction may not stop or be prepared to stop putting people who are crossing in jeopardy.

Now a solution at one point at 146th Street is a nice skywalk that allows trail users to cross above the road.  This might be a costly yet functional solution however yesterday as I was turning onto 146th Street at the corner, in the shadow of the trail, were two bicyclists who were trying cross the street.  I simply shook my head, a perfectly good path with safety above their head and they are stuttering to cross 146th as cars travel by and turn onto the street with regularity.   Now I am all for using the trail and I hope that fixes are made at the crossing that are the most dangerous.  But until then here is a very simple tutorial:

1.  If you are on the Monon, when you approach a street you must cross, follow the big stop sign and the barriers you must go around and stop, look and cross when clear.  It is simple.  If you have kids, keep them back from the edge of the road, and if you are on a bike, don't play chicken with on-coming traffic.  That is simply stupid.

2.  If you are driving, as you approach the Monon crossing, slow down, if you see someone in the crosswalk, stop and yield.  If you don't keep going but be aware of surroundings.  DO NOT STOP AND WAVE PEOPLE INTO THE CROSSING.  That is dangerous.  For you and for them.  It is better you keep going and let the traffic clear.

3.  Understand that regardless if you do everything correctly someone might not.  Be aware that people are often going to make mistakes or simply not care about other people, react appropriately and take the high road.

4.  Petition local government for solutions and for law enforcement to police this and fine violators.

We have a wonderful treasure in our city and for much of the length of this it isn't much of a problem.  If we work together, we can almost certainly solve the problems and make the Monon safe and fun.

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