What to Do About Fifth and Flower?

1 16 09 fifth and flower_1.jpg

Today in City Watch, Stephen Box talk about the need to improve pedestrian safety for everyone, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. 

On Tuesday, Box and I did a tour of the intersection of 5th and Flower, the intersection where Gwendolyn Coleman had been struck and killed by a DASH bus while legally crossing the street a week earlier.  Noting the extremely short amount of time that pedestrians have a white walk signal, 4 seconds crossing six lanes of traffic going east and west and 5 seconds for crossing seven lanes going north and south, the conflict between pedestrians crossing as quickly as possible and traffic seeking to take left turns into the crosswalk is pretty clear.

Box lays out the problems with the 5th Avenue and Flower Street:

It is especially successful in this endeavor with seven lanes of
one-way traffic moving east on 5th and six lanes of one-traffic moving
south on Flower.

This intersection is also home to the Central Library, to the
Bonaventure Hotel and two huge office buildings, all generating heavy
pedestrian activity which is at odds with the movement of the vehicles.

The problem is that this intersection is designed to simply move either
vehicles or people, with the success of one group coming at the expense
of the other.

Eastbound vehicles stack seven and eight deep in the left turn, waiting
for the pedestrians to clear the intersection. Pedestrians enjoy a
four-second "Walk" phase as they set out to cross six lanes of street,
all with vehicles edging forward into the crosswalk.

Given that there’s nothing that can be done about the existing development in the area, the large buildings and underground malls aren’t going anywhere, what do people think can be done to make this intersection safe and efficient for everyone?  What does the city have to do to end the conflict between those on foot and those in the vehicles?

My thought, given that Coleman was killed crossing the street with a walk signal and the bus that killed her had a green light also, is to install scramble crosswalks at high volume intersections of one way streets.  This way, each mode of transportation will have its own time to cross the intersection while instead of having turning traffic compete with pedestrians for the intersection.

Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Photo: The New/Flickr 

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