Springfield City Council Toughens City Law Concerning Pedestrian Safety

Dec 13, 2017

Sunshine and Glenstone Intersection
Credit Google Maps

One change to city code allows police officers to ticket pedestrians for crossing the street outside of a crosswalk one half hour after sunset to one half hour before sunrise.  The bill adds language saying motorists must yield to pedestrians crossing in designated crosswalks or face a minimum fine of $100. 

Pedestrians are now prohibited from crossing a street with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or greater anywhere except at an intersection, a crosswalk or a pedestrian-control signal.

City code now states that no person shall be located on a median at an arterial intersection (one with a speed limit, on at least one approach of at least 35 mph) unless in the process of legally crossing the roadway.

The changes are the result of a study on pedestrian safety on Springfield streets and intersections done by CBB, Transportation Engineers+Planners, based in St. Louis.

CBB’s vice president, Shawn Leight, told council members in November pedestrians should be in the roadway when they’re in a place designated for them.

"So, whether they're on a sidewalk, in a crosswalk, somewhere they're expected to be or if they're in a public street, we've provided traffic control for them," he said, referring to events such as Turkey Trot.

Another place motorists should expect to encounter pedestrians in the street, he said, is in residential areas.

He presented statistics showing that pedestrian injuries and deaths are on the rise.  In the past year, five pedestrians have been killed on Springfield streets, and an average of 60 people are struck on the city's roadways each year.

Springfield resident Sarah Reed told council members she was concerned the ordinance could affect low-income residents.  She pointed out that many streets have long stretches where there are no safe places to cross, and that's why people cross where they shouldn't.

"While that is dangerous, that's because to go to a crosswalk could be up to a mile additional walking just to get to the opposite side of the street," she said.

Before City Council voted unanimously Monday in support of the bill, Councilman Mike Schilling asked how the law would be enforced.  Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said they would respond to citizens’ complaints as well as conduct proactive enforcement if an officer sees an offense occurring.  And certain locations might be monitored.

"If there are specific intersections where there have been multiple complaints," he said, "I think you used the word stake out or surveil.  I wouldn't go that strong, but we will monitor those locations a little more aggressively to make sure that violations aren't occurring."

He said officers will work to educate the public through the end of the month, and then they’ll start issuing citations.