The City of Cleveland Heights has begun implementing safety features to the crosswalk in front of the Lee Road Library.
Mayor Ed Kelley said city and library officials discussed the safety of that crosswalk a few months ago, but it became a priority after a 23-year-old woman was struck by a car there on the afternoon of Oct. 18. She suffered an ankle injury, said Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson.
The city hosted a meeting Oct. 29 to discuss how to prevent an accident like that in the future.
"I’m not going to sit around twiddling my thumbs while someone else gets hurt," Kelley said.
The city had installed the solar-powered signs in April 2011, hoping to increase safety there. They only flash when pedestrians push a button, unlike other crosswalks throughout the city.
But Kelley said more needs to be done.
The city plans to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 25.
Before the incident, Richard Wong, planning and development director, said the city had installed signs that indicate a crosswalk is ahead and tell drivers to yield. After the incident, the city also replaced the cone-like crosswalk signs in the middle of the street.
"We’ve had those before, but the problem is a big truck comes by and knocks it down," Kelley said.
But there are other features the city wants to add to warn drivers people are crossing ahead.
Wong said they hope to install rectangular lights that are similar to strobe or emergency vehicle lights that catch the attention of drivers.
Wong said the company claims that the lights, if installed on both sides of the crosswalk, will have an 88 percent success rate — drivers stop. Apparently standard crosswalks now only have 18 percent success, according to the company.
Wong said the police department is investigating whether they can just purchase the lights separately from the sign and light combination. The combination would cost the city significantly more — $10,000 to $15,000 — to replace a relatively new crosswalk.
Another change is the paint on the ground itself.
"We're adding north/south paint lines within the existing east/west crosswalk," Wong said, explaining it looks like the crosswalk on the Beatles' "Abbey Road" cover. The difference is that there are both thin and thick paint lines, "more like a keyboard on a piano," to increase visibility.
Robertson said officers are also monitoring the area and citing people who don't yield to pedestrians.
Robertson said the woman driving was charged for not paying full attention to the road. Kelley said, though the woman was not using her cell phone in this case, texting and talking is a huge problem. The new features will help catch the attention of distracted drivers.
"As far as I know, this is the only (accident with a pedestrian) we've had, but in my point of view, one accident is too many," Kelley said.
He added that the city plans to study other crosswalks around the city and make them safer. For example, signs were added to the path across Fairmount Boulevard near Ruffing Montessori recently at the suggestion of Rick Hollis, resident and owner of Hollis Automotive, Kelley said.
"We've got to make sure the kids and the families are safe coming and going," he said.