Another voice: The real issue is a closed crosswalk not kids

June 29, 2011

In the editorial "Safe Summer," June 18, Hood River News was very stereotypical and misleading with regards to the crosswalk at 12th and May.

"…For kids in particular, the excitement of summer is a proven distraction as they make their way around. However, the fact is, kids don't always follow the rules in getting from point A to point B."

The fact is, many people, including adults, do not follow the rules when the rules are ridiculous and make little sense.

First of all, not just kids but also adults are crossing at that now "closed crosswalk." The real issue is not with who is crossing at this intersection, but the poor planning and closing of a perfectly good and needed crosswalk.

By closing this crosswalk, the city has inconvenienced all citizens due to a rerouted crosswalk created at the community's cost in tax dollars, produced an eyesore and, most importantly, compromised safety.

The problem seemed to begin when the crosswalk was closed for construction purposes by the Hood River Hospital as they constructed their parking lot in the fall of 2010. It continued when the city decided to permanently change the walking route of all pedestrians from the May Street School neighborhood to the west-side area, thus closing an important crosswalk and creating a maze for walkers.

Many families, children as well as adults, continued crossing at the closed crosswalk for easier access to the west side of town and the hospital.

The two 3-foot signs cemented into the ground at 12th and May while yelling out "CLOSED CROSSWALK" create a huge eyesore for the community and are redundant.

The unneeded signs serve no purpose other than as an eyesore for the community. They act as metal barriers to keep people from crossing the street that they have crossed for generations. No wonder our library remains closed and schools are also closing. This is a perfect example of poor planning and wasteful spending.

The safety issues created by closing the crosswalk severely outweigh the prospect of leaving the previous status quo. There is currently already a crosswalk a block down from 12th and May so traffic has already been slowed.

By keeping the extra crosswalk it would only add to the safety for both walkers and bikers. Instead, they have changed it so that pedestrians have to cross the street three times instead of once.

It is hard to believe that city planners expect citizens to cross the street three times just to make it to the next unsafe intersection of 13th and May (which is also a mess; but we won't unleash that issue here). Most people won't try and tackle such a maze.

So, pedestrians are risking their lives three times before they even get to 13th Street. It is also extremely scary for bikers (both kids and adults) who will continue crossing at 12th and May.

People need to feel safe, and they need to trust in their community planners to make good decisions. Closing the crosswalk at 12th and May was a bad decision which risks the lives of citizens.

According to the front page June 18 Hood River News article, "Planners seek input on TSP," the city is taking input (until July 5) on the future transportation plan for our city. They obviously need help and input.

We must also protest the ugly signs, reestablish the crosswalk and, most importantly, restore safety to the intersection at 12th and May. It will return safety for all pedestrians and bikers (both kids and adults) who cross the street.

Morgan Graves, 12, of Hood River, wrote this letter, and had it signed by 16 other concerned citizens.

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