Alejandro Sotres has a valid complaint. The crosswalk on Mission Boulevard near Randall Lane in Santa Rosa <i>is </i>a safety concern.
Not only does it cross four lanes of traffic, but it does it in a place where few drivers seem to abide by the posted 35 mph speed limit. Worse, the crosswalk is on a slight bend in the road, which makes pedestrians sitting ducks, especially at night or during stormy weather.
"The main problem is the speed that's tolerated on Mission Boulevard," Sotres told Staff Writer Martin Espinoza.
Unfortunately, this was demonstrated in tragic form on Oct. 21 when 24-year-old Alejandro Torres was hit by a car while using that crosswalk to get to the house of his best friend. He never made it. Torres was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead the following morning.
Sotres responded by gathering signatures from 80 others who feel as he does. He submitted those signatures to Santa Rosa City Manager Kathy Millison and Mayor Ernesto Olivares this week.
Millison says the city will look into the complaint after the police complete their investigation of the accident.
No doubt city officials will follow through on this promise. The problem is this isn't the only questionable crosswalk in the city. It's not even the only problem crosswalk on Mission Boulevard. Just a block away, drivers can be seen flying through the crosswalk at Sherbrook Drive. The same is true at Culebra Avenue, which is also on a slight bend in the road.
Having these kinds of "uncontrolled approaches" — meaning without traffic lights or warning lights — that cross four-lane thoroughfares, where cars rarely abide by the speed limit, leave pedestrians, bicyclists and others at risk.
Of these, the city has too many, on Guerneville and Piner roads, for example, on the west side and on Santa Rosa Avenue, Fourth Street and College Avenue on the east side of town, to name just a few.
On Oct. 16, a homeless man was hit and killed while in a crosswalk on College Avenue near Mendocino Avenue. His death was the ninth pedestrian fatality in Santa Rosa in the past two years.
The victims include4-year-old Christopher "Buddy: Rowe, who was struck in an uncontrolled crosswalk on West Ninth Street in 2011. The year before Michelle Cordova, a 15-year-old Santa Rosa High sophomore, was struck by a car and killed while crossing West College Avenue in a crosswalk.
Meanwhile, last month, the city of Santa Rosa agreed to pay $335,000 to the family of a 20-year-old Santa Rosa Junior College student who was struck and killed in a dark Santa Rosa Avenue crosswalk in 2009. The family alleged in a lawsuit that the streetlight at the east end of the crosswalk was out at the time of the accident, making the crossing particularly unsafe. Ultimately, PG&E settled the case with the city, paying both the city's legal costs and the settlement.
In some cases, flashing lights and other controls have been added after accidents occurred. But the city shouldn't want for tragedy to strike before taking action. Santa Rosa needs a comprehensive study on the safety of all its "uncontrolled" crosswalks — particularly those that span four-lane roadways.
Such a study would allow city officials to decide where to concentrate limited resources to make crosswalks and roadways safe. As it is, crosswalk improvements are occurring less as a recognition of what the city needs to do and more as an acknowledgment of what the city should have done.