City Life: City and schools walk the talk on road safety

Hamtramck will soon be part of a growing number of communities that have taken a novel approach to slowing down traffic. Look for several 3-D illustrations to be created at key crosswalks.



By Walter Wasacz
Last week Hamtramck took an innovative first step forward to increase pedestrian safety on the city’s streets.
In a joint meeting of the common council and the board of education, the two local public bodies unanimously approved a pilot project to install 3D crosswalks at four intersections along the Gallagher corridor.
The intersections are, from north to south, at Casmere, Caniff, Evaline and Holbrook. Gallagher was chosen for the collaborative pilot program because it connects three public schools — Hamtramck High, Dickinson East and Tau Beta — and is heavily used by pedestrians on their way to and from restaurants and markets on Caniff and Holbrook.
The implementation of the 3-D design is thought to be the first of its kind in Michigan. The crosswalk designs have been popping up across heavily-populated cities in central and south Asia, where fatal crashes between motorists and pedestrians are among the highest in the world.
They are also being used in Iceland and Bosnia, where Hamtramck business owners Zlatan and Indira Sadikovic (pictured) last month chanced upon the painting of a 3-D crosswalk in Sarajevo.
The crosswalks appear to be raised above the ground, an illusory effect that signals to motorists that they are approaching a pedestrian crossing.
According to state law, people using crosswalks have the right of way to cross there and motorists must yield or stop for them.
Signage alerting drivers to the law are usually installed in tandem with the crosswalks.
The cost of the project will not exceed $25,000 and will include a $12,500 contribution from the school district and $12,500 from the city.
Estimated costs for 3-D painting is $26 a foot. City manager Kathy Angerer said the job will be put out for bid. “Not many companies in
Michigan are doing this kind of work,” Angerer said. “We will go with the best bid, not necessarily the cheapest.”
In addition, the joint body supported installing vertical traffic bollards at Lumpkin and Norwalk and Lumpkin and Edwin to deter hot rodding near Pulaski Park.
The resolution referred to the City of Hamtramck as being “known for its walkability and residents in our community walk for exercise, fun and many walk to school, walk to work, walk to parks, or walk to shop on a daily basis.”
It went on to underscore a “deep commitment to education and safe behavior for pedestrians and motorists and creating a safer, more walkable community — not only for our children, but for all members of the community.”
The 3D crosswalks are expected to be phase one of several road safety projects discussed in meetings between outgoing schools Superintendent Thomas Niczay and Angerer.
Other problem areas identified include the streets that border Pulaski Park and Mackay between Caniff and Carpenter, a stretch of road near Kosciusko Middle and Dickinson West Elementary schools.
There is also a shortage of speed limit signage throughout the city. The speed limit is 25 mph on all streets, unless marked.
No street in Hamtramck has a speed limit above 35 miles per hour (mph), yet motorists on Gallagher and other roadways commonly exceed 50 mph.
There has been a rash of motor crashes into utility poles and buildings in recent years, including a pole that was severed last week on Commor near Conant. The crash resulted in a power outage for a number of residents and businesses.
Jan Vujic, a teacher who attended last week’s meeting, said she canceled an annual spring student walk for fear of speeding drivers around the Kosciuszko/Dickinson West building on Burger near Mackay.
There was a video posted on Facebook of teen drivers doing donuts and “yo-yos” in a parking lot the night of high school graduation. Some who responded to the thread said the cars were likely rentals, but neither that information nor the location of the incident could be independently verified.
The meeting was significant for another reason: the spirit of cooperation between city and public school officials.
Both public bodies are looking for ways to find new funding sources to replace expected shortfalls from the imminent closure of the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and Wayne County’s Dickerson Jail.
Discussions between Angerer and Niczay began earlier this year, resulting in the joint meeting between councilmembers and board of education trustees.
“Partnerships are everything,” Niczay said at the meeting, which was held at the Hamtramck Public Library. “Partnerships are the future.”

Hamtramck native Walter Wasacz walks the city streets day and night and writes about it for the Review.
June 21, 2019

4 Responses to City Life: City and schools walk the talk on road safety

  1. nasr hussain

    June 21, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Is it wise?

    conditioning drivers not to believe with they see while wasting $50K by a “cash strapped city” for a painting job that won’t last that long either.

    Installing more stop signs will be much wiser than this.

    Dear City officials;
    Please do a simple internet search before blindly following what’s been suggested to you.

  2. nasr hussain

    June 21, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    form the above-linked article comments section:

    * I asked Palo Alto’s Transportation Manager about this five or six years ago, and the reason Palo Alto doesn’t do it for two reasons; the first being that neighborhood drivers start ignoring it after seeing it the first few times (as mentioned elsewhere in the forum), and the second that when the paint gets dirty the optical illusion gets wrecked fairly quickly.

    * You are still going to have more vehicle accidents up front with this weird crossing design. You might as well pay someone to stand by the roadside and randomly throw soccer balls in front of cars to slow down traffic. That’s the mindset here – that pedestrian safety is best achieved by confusing or scaring drivers, instead of trying to provide some kind of better warning that someone is in the crosswalk.

    Frankly, I don’t see how this 3D design is in any way better than a set of flashing crossing lights. These are proven systems that seem to work well, at least in my area. Let’s put more of those in, or if you want cheap – a simple speed bump can do wonders.

    *Brilliant Ziggy! Let’s increase crashes so that we can feel good about a novel, untested crosswalk marking. It would be really interesting when the rear-ended vehicle is pushed into the crosswalk and the pedestrian.

    *Consider that confused drivers are likely to panic and maybe even vear onto the sidewalk at the last second as they suddenly think there is something blocking the road. This can happen when nobody is even in the crosswalk. You might actually hurt more pedestrians with such a stupid crosswalk design.

    *I believe this type of crosswalk is far more likely to generate a big increase in rear-end collisions as drivers come to a screeching halt thinking there are concrete blocks across the road. I sure would the first time. Cute, but a very bad idea. Standards matter in traffic design.

  3. nasr hussain

    June 21, 2019 at 10:24 pm

  4. Fatema Hossain

    June 22, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    “No street in Hamtramck has a speed limit above 35 miles per hour(mph), yet motorists on Gallagher and other roadways commonly exceed 50 mph.”

    This has been an ongoing problem that has been reported on local TV news reports for the last several years – yet the problem continues to occur.

    More aggressive and visible community policing needs to be put into place. Other gimmicks such as 3-D illusions are not going to have any significant impact.

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