Locals cross about lack of crosswalk - Gilroy Dispatch: City Local Government

Locals cross about lack of crosswalk

City removed crosswalk on Wren Avenue, worrying a parent over how it’s putting children at risk

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 4:42 pm

From before the time a child learns to talk, he is taught two things about road safety: to look both ways before you cross the street, and to always cross the street at a crosswalk.

So it's no surprise that Gilroy parent Dominic Cefalu was upset when the City removed a crosswalk at the busy intersection of Wren Avenue and Byers Street near El Roble Elementary School.

“It doesn't make any sense to not have a crosswalk, cars come speeding through and it's so dangerous,” said Cefalu, a resident of the neighborhood behind El Roble park, and parent of two young boys.

Cefalu complained to the City as soon as he noticed the crosswalk – which had been there 25 years - had been painted over as a part of the Wren Avenue construction project.

“I thought it was a mistake. This is such a high foot traffic area, with the park and school being right there, I can't understand how it was common sense to remove the crosswalk there,” he said.

Don Dey, city transportation engineer, said the City removed it in August because it was deemed an unsafe spot for a crosswalk, citing that it is actually safer for pedestrians to cross the street without a crosswalk.

“When there is no crosswalk, the pedestrian takes their safety more seriously and is more careful when entering an intersection,” Dey said.

Dey said that it is still legal and not considered jaywalking for pedestrians to cross the two-lane Wren Avenue at Byers Street, because the pedestrian has the right-of-way at any intersection, whether marked with a painted crosswalk or not.

“The problem lies when an uncontrolled crosswalk gives pedestrians the impression that they have the right-of-way. They assume, with a crosswalk, that cars will automatically stop for them, but that is not always the case,” Dey said.

Dey said based on complaints from “multiple” residents received on the crosswalk over the past few years, the City deemed it necessary to remove it.

Cefalu said that he was the “primary” person complaining to the City about the crosswalk all along, and that he had asked the City to make the crosswalk safer by adding blinking lights or more signage.

“But instead of listening, they took it down entirely,” Cefalu said.

After “getting nowhere” with the City's transportation department for the past month, Cefalu decided to take his concerns to City Council, where he spoke at the Oct. 1 meeting during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Councilman Perry Woodward said he wasn't aware the City removed the crosswalk, and requested at the meeting to discuss the issue at an upcoming meeting, a request that City Administrator Tom Haglund obliged.

Dey said that there is “not money sitting around” in the City’s transportation budget to bring back the crosswalk complete with blinking lights, but if Council directs staff to do it and passes a budget for it, then it will be completed.

The date for the discussion has not yet been established.

Woodward later mentioned over the phone that because there are no stop signs on Wren Avenue near Byers Street, drivers reach a fairly high speed, making it unsafe to cross with small children. The closest stop sign or stoplights are a quarter of a mile north of Byers Street at Third Street (which is also where the closest crosswalk is), or a third of a mile south at Uvas Park Drive. The speed limit is 35 mph on this stretch of Wren Avenue, but according to Dey, it is common for cars to drive at speeds of 38 to 40 mph.

“That park is heavily used by kids in that neighborhood. Maybe we need a high visibility crosswalk or something. We ought to take a real hard look at that, even if it costs us some money. We need to make sure there is a safe route to that park,” Woodward said.

Cefalu said that he hopes Council will take a good look at putting the crosswalk back.

“I turned to Council, because I've tried to be patient with the City, but I've gotten nowhere. I've been asking for a safer crosswalk for years, but instead, they said 'Oh you're on your own, now you'll think more when you jump out in the street,'” Cefalu said.

“Having no crosswalk puts so many children at risk. At this rate, somebody is going to get killed there, and it's going to be a little kid,” he said. “I'll keep fighting to get that crosswalk back. I can't have that on my conscience.”

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  • RobinEgbert posted at 1:05 am on Mon, Oct 8, 2012.

    RobinEgbert Posts: 186

    Gang, this is election year. Voice your concerns to the politicians not city dept.'s. Here's a parable from the GOOD BOOK and it's pretty GOOD. Dr. Luke, chapter 8, records this:

    "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

    "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't drive me crazy.' "

    Remember, politicians work for you. All of you need to KEEP CALLING THEM. Tie up their phone lines. Go by their homes and offices. What's YOUR child worth. Do YOU need to see CHILDREN'S BLOOD in the street?
    Turn up the HEAT.

  • LACONN posted at 4:12 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    LACONN Posts: 2

    It is very clear that Mr. Brooks and Kingnicolas2 have no idea how dangerous 3rd and Wren are and that there are only crossing guards on santa theresa. They also have no idea the demographic of children who are walking to school. This includes their younger siblings who are infants and toddlers. The parents are trying to communicate with the community that wren is dangerous and that is the street we cross. We are asking to provide a safe place to cross. I think the real issue is liability. According to the vehicle code, 29154, it is not illegal to cross without a crosswalk, and the right of way goes to the vehicle and the pedestrian has the duty to yield. When there is a crosswalk, the vehicle has the duty to yield and the pedestrian has the right of way. So Wren and 3rd is VERY dangerous, and Wren and Byers is a little easier for vehicles to see that a pedestrian is crossing. I think we need to push for a stop sign there and a lighted crosswalk. I am sure GPD knows the true average speed these vehicles are traveling and it is not 35mph!

  • Buddysgirl2004 posted at 2:42 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Buddysgirl2004 Posts: 3

    Excuse me: that last cement would be for KingNicholas2...

  • Buddysgirl2004 posted at 2:15 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Buddysgirl2004 Posts: 3

    And Mr Brooks calling our children names make you look like the uneducated one here. Trolls are not welcome.

  • Buddysgirl2004 posted at 2:09 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Buddysgirl2004 Posts: 3

    First of all, there are no crossing guards at Third Street and Wren Avenue.

    Last year my daughter (in a stroller) and I were almost hit while crossing properly at Third. It was viewed by an officer who promptly pulled the person over. Incidents like this happened many times and we began to feel very unsafe walking to school. Where I live, it is equal distance to go to either crosswalk. I have found it safer to cross at Byers and Wren due to the fact that I am not worried about cross traffic who don't slow for us while we have a crossing light AND they have a green light.

    Keep in mind El Roble is a LITTLE KIDS school. All these children are walked to school with an adult. As adults, we are trying to tell you that Third is too congested and we need our cross walk back to provide a safer alternative access to school. The crosswalk we had before wasn't great but it sure was better than nothing!

  • oldcrow posted at 1:13 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    oldcrow Posts: 2

    The crosswalk needs to be put back and adding flashing lights or a stop sign would be even better. I used to ride my bicycle to work and had to cross here, but after almost getting hit 3 times I went back to driving. Does the city ever plan on opening Uvas Park Drive between Wren and Laurel? Tthis would take a lot of traffic off of Wren and the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Elie posted at 11:08 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Elie Posts: 2

    I live in this neighborhood and now that the cross walk has been taken away the speed of drivers is outrageous. Drivers are going well over 40mph making it hard to turn onto Wren let alone walk across it. This cross walk was used for neighborhood familie's to cross not only for school but for the park. The community used that cross walk to get to Tball games,flag football and Soccer games as well. Taking this cross walk away has made it extremely unsafe for the neighborhood as well as the community. When the cross walk was there it made drivers more aware that there was as school near and a park where children and families would be crossing. Most cars would stop before the line and allow families/children to cross. However now with the cross walk has been taken away drivers are speading through and careless/reckless. Unfortuantely with there are no crossguards at Wren and third for our children to cross safely. Yes there are street lights but at a 4 way intersection with no guards and high traffic it's still extremely unsafe. I'm very upset about this decision without taking into consideration the neighborhood and community that used this cross walk. FYI all that don't live in the area or use the park or have children who attend the school there is not cross guard on 3rd and Buyers another thing that was taken away a few years back!

  • KingNicholas2 posted at 10:16 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    KingNicholas2 Posts: 411

    Mr Brooks is right - they should cross at Third if Byers is so dangerous. Oh, wait, that would be too far a walk for the obese little heifers

  • LACONN posted at 9:08 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    LACONN Posts: 2

    The GUSD recently have promoted a Walk and Bike to school day (grant money provided) on the 10/3, it included a survey for me to fill out, I would NEVER participate when it is even unsafe for me to cross the street. After reading Mr. Dey's perspective, I find that ironic. Has Mr. Dey watched was happend in the morning between 7:45 and 8:00, drivers are going over 35 mph to get to work and small children are trying to cross? This is a combination just ready to become a tragedy. But isn't it then, when we see action? It seems like the city won't move toward saftely unless there is a wrongful death suit, and an outraged community. Lets not let it get this far. Let's ask Don Gage what he thinks since he is running for Mayor and is /was on the VTA Board. I am sure he is acquainted with safety issues and transportation. Until then, I will keep driving my car to school, making sure they are safely in their classroom ready to learn.

  • Mr Brooks posted at 12:00 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Mr Brooks Posts: 72

    Oh, and if you are concerned about your kids crossing the street coming from school, why don't you have them cross on Third Street where there is a signal light and a crossing guard?

  • Mr Brooks posted at 11:57 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Mr Brooks Posts: 72

    And two painted lines on the roadway surface will do what exactly????
    Its two lines made of paint, they are not shields. Whether the lines are there or not isn't going to keep a speeding car from hitting you if that car is going to hit you to begin with. The California Vehicle Code already recognizes the extensions of sidewalks at intersections as crosswalks when there are no lines painted on the roadway surface. So paint on the roadway is just what......pretty?

  • Old School posted at 9:51 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Old School Posts: 3

    Hope the community comes together and help push the city to do whats right. Cant believe the city traffic engineer would put children at risk like this. Instead of doing whats right and look at ways of making it safe they remove it and tell the community to cross at your own risk. Come on city council... its re-election time do the right thing here! Its for the kids [smile]

  • donz posted at 7:30 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    donz Posts: 1

    paint the crosswalk back and put up a stop sign . If the city need help with the work i'm sure that we can get the help.

  • g2 posted at 6:34 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    g2 Posts: 2

    My children have attended El Roble for several years. I use this path to school four times a day to walk my kids to school and then to pick them up. It is a very busy street and always use caution when crossing. With the removal of the crosswalk, it has become even more dangerous. I have taught my children to look for traffic and proceed carefully across the street, but it is difficult to protect them from motorists that choose not to slow down now that there is not an official crosswalk. We also have used the public park located at the back of El Roble School and the fields connected to it for Gilroy Little League and Flag Football. I am disappointed that the crosswalk and School Crossing signs have been removed without notifying the residents. I called to voice my concerns and have not received a call back or a letter stating the reasoning behind this removal.

  • yellow lab posted at 6:13 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    yellow lab Posts: 1

    My son also goes to El Roble and I take that way to school also. Why the city removed the crosswalk is beyond me. It needs to be put back.