|September 15, 2002|
I consider myself, as a Pittsburgher because I have lived in the area all my life, and until recently I have been able to travel throughout the city with little or no difficulty. However, with the implementation of right turn on red, and the change in the light patterns effecting the flow of traffic in particular down town Pittsburgh I find that I need assistance in getting from one place to another. I believe that I am a good cane traveler, and therefore, I am concerned not only for myself, but for those who are not as proficient in cane travel or the use of a guide dog. Also consider the fact that the Pittsburgh area has one of the oldest populations in the country, many have or already have been afflicted with such eye diseases as macular degeneration. The current traffic flow problem will only add to there travel problems. I believe the solution to this problem is the installation of audible pedestrian signals in particular down town Pittsburgh. I know that you have several concerns such as cost, and how traffic patterns would be affected buy such devices. It is my understanding that much of the cost for installation of the audible pedestrian signals, would be subsidized by the federal government, and as for the flow of traffic, I am sure you are also concerned about the safety of the pedestrian. I know you are encouraging people to come in to Pittsburgh to shop, and attend events, which take place in Pittsburgh, but many of us will not because of the hassle in getting around the city.
Pittsburgh will be the host for the American council of the Blind national convention in 2003, and I along with others would love nothing better than to see Pittsburgh as in the for front, in the area of ease of travel. Please review the information the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind in cooperation with Novax industries has provided. If you have questions you may contact Sheila Groves at Novax, or Gene Barton of gtcb at (412)732-0860.
The article is as follows:
Subject: article from post
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
By Timothy McNulty, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Downtown intersections are too dangerous for blind pedestrians and need to be equipped with audible crossing signals, blind advocates plan to tell Pittsburgh City Council today.
The advocates have been pressing the Murphy administration for several months to add the crossing signals -- which stop traffic four ways while issuing loud sounds or commands to pedestrians -- to a handful of intersections Downtown. The city has just two of the audible signals citywide, both on Craig Street in North Oakland. Advocates for the blind also want them at the five-pronged intersection at Stanwix Street at Liberty and Forbes avenues, and near Downtown hotels where a national blind convention will be staged next summer.
Officials from the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind lobbied Mayor Tom Murphy for the signals in a meeting early this year. Noticing no progress, they plan to publicly appeal to City Council today.
The devices could help not only the blind, but senior
citizens visiting or working Downtown, said Council of the Blind President
Bonnie Newland. Last year, a 68-year-old woman was run over and killed in
traffic gridlock at Cherry Way and Forbes Avenue, she noted. "We're not
advocating that they be everywhere, only in certain bad intersections,"
Newland said. "With right turn on red and some other ways [motorists]
drive, some intersections are very dangerous."
With any traffic-control device -- from walk signals to
stop signs -- city officials have to balance safety concerns for pedestrians
with the need to keep traffic flowing. Audible signals take special
consideration since they stop traffic completely, backing it up in every
direction. Downtown is already congested, so the audible crosswalks
would only increase gridlock. "To have a pedestrian phase where blind
people are concerned, all traffic must stop," said city Engineering and
Construction Director Fred Reginella. He
said adding the audible signals Downtown "would be a little more problematic than what we have in Oakland. We believe blind people and automobiles should not be intermingling."
Newland says signal technology has improved since the city installed the Oakland signals, which emit electronic chirping noises alerting people to cross. New technologies include verbal commands and vibrating arrows that point safe directions to walk. The improvements will allow Downtown signals to be more efficient than they are in Oakland, shortening waits for motorists, she said. "We don't want to abuse the system and certainly don't want to inconvenience a lot of people, we really don't. We know during rush hour people don't want to be inconvenienced. We're not advocating that, we just want a right to cross the street," Newland said. "We're not saying we should have them at every intersection."
The city contemplated adding the audible signals during
planned traffic improvements to the Fifth-Forbes retail corridor, but when
Murphy's redevelopment plan was rejected, the improvements were also shelved.
Reginella understood how the city's delays to the corridor could leave the
blind community disappointed.
The city was "of a mind that Forbes Avenue would be under construction at a reasonable time, so now we have the problem of explaining why it didn't happen. I don't know if we're in a position to defend our lack of action," Reginella said.
Newland and Sue Etters, the public education coordinator for the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind, said they intend to lobby city Councilman Sala Udin the hardest for the signals, because he represents Downtown and has made fixing Downtown traffic gridlock one of his issues. Udin did not return phone calls last week.
The 42nd annual national convention of the American
Council of the Blind is set for July 5 through 12 at the David L. Lawrence
Convention Center. Tim McNulty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
index previous comment next comment