and crossing prohibitions

To complete the story about crosswalks, the locations where crossing is prohibited must also largely be removed. These locations are marked with the ‘no crossing’ sign at right (MUTCD R9-3a). Some of these locations probably never had crosswalks, some had them but were removed when the street was ‘upgraded’. A few of these locations cannot be made safe without complete reconstruction of the street. Freeway on-ramps and off-ramps, of which Sacramento has too many because it has too many freeways and too many freeways designed around commuting instead of interstate commerce, are particularly problematic. However, most locations indicate a clear intent by traffic engineers to prioritize the movement and speed of motor vehicles over all other considerations, including safety. This bias must be ended.

Here are the solutions:

  1. The city should be required to perform a complete traffic study on each and every location with a prohibited crossing. The traffic studies should be completed within two years.
  2. If the traffic study indicates that the prohibition is necessary for safety, then the prohibition can remain, but a new traffic study must be completed every five years. If the traffic study indicates that the prohibition was not made for safety reasons and is not needed for safety reasons, the prohibition must be removed and a marked crosswalk installed.
  3. City staff will analyze each prohibited location that remains to determine what redesign would make the prohibition unnecessary, and bring to the city council a proposal to expend funds to fix the location.
  4. At all prohibited locations, the city would be required to post informational signing with distances to the nearest safe crossing, in both directions.

Though I am picking on the City of Sacramento here, these prohibited crossings are found in every city in the region, and in abundance in unincorporated areas. All should receive the same treatment.

no-ped-crossing in the grid

no pedestrian crossing means three crossings
no pedestrian crossing means three crossings

As mentioned in my recommendations for improving walkability in midtown/downtown, in response to the Sacramento Grid 2.0 program, I’ve developed more information including a map (at bottom) about the locations in the grid that are signed against pedestrian crossing. The signs at these locations may be the modern MUTCD R9-3a sign, shown at right, or the older text sign, shown below, or variety of non-standard signs. Update 2015-07-27: 37 locations.

5th-St-I-St_no-ped-crossingThere are a large number of other locations where crossing is discouraged by the lack of sidewalks, curb ramps, and crosswalks, but is not specifically prohibited.

As can be seen from the map below, the majority of the no pedestrian crossing locations are along the Capitol Expressway (Business 80) and US 50 freeways. These freeways, designed and constructed by Caltrans, are barriers to pedestrian use. In fact, they are a barrier to all use and livability because many of the grid streets do no continue under the freeways, making access more difficult for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicle drivers. In many cases there are no sidewalks on the freeway side of the adjacent surface street, so whether or not there is a safe or marked crossing doesn’t mean much without a sidewalk to connect to.

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