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Street Smart: Safety is priority when driving, walking or riding


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Tom Mitchell crosses Third Street to conduct business at the Bartholomew County Jail Monday February 1, 2010. The crosswalk, across three lanesin front of the jail has long been labeled as dangerous.
Tom Mitchell crosses Third Street to conduct business at the Bartholomew County Jail Monday February 1, 2010. The crosswalk, across three lanesin front of the jail has long been labeled as dangerous.


Downtown Columbus has been referred to as “everyone’s neighborhood.” That is certainly a fitting description given the wide array of activities available in the downtown area.

Likewise, safety in the downtown is everyone’s responsibility whether you drive a vehicle, ride a bike or prefer to walk.

Common sense, patience, respect and just plain common courtesy should be the prevailing themes when moving around the downtown area.

Pedestrians

Walking is the preferred and most efficient method of movement in densely populated areas with limited parking. Sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic-control devices make walking a safe option. However, in certain situations, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. Several state laws govern pedestrian movements under chapter 17 of the traffic code (I.C. 9-21-17). Below are just a few:

  • Pedestrians shall obey official traffic control devices.
  • Pedestrians may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • Pedestrians may not cross at any place other than a marked crosswalk when crossing between adjacent intersections with traffic control signals.

Again, common sense is the rule of thumb. Even if you think you have the right of way, stepping in front of a moving vehicle is not advisable. For more information on pedestrian laws, please refer to the following link: www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title9/ar21/ch17.html

Again, common sense is the rule of thumb. Even if you think you have the right of way, stepping in front of a moving vehicle is not advisable. For more information on pedestrian laws, please refer to the following link: www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title9/ar21/ch17.html

Bicyclists

Most people know that bicycles are required to follow the same moving traffic laws as motor vehicles. This means stopping at stop signs, stopping at red lights, yielding to pedestrians, traveling with the flow of traffic and using a light after dark. As Columbus becomes more “bicycle friendly,” cyclists need to do their part by obeying traffic laws.

Motorists

We receive numerous complaints about motorists ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks and disregarding traffic control signals. Our officers have increased enforcement at all intersections along Washington Street from Second through 11th streets. We have also focused enforcement efforts on the crosswalks along Brown Street connecting Cummins to their parking lot west of Brown Street. If you see a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, you are also required to stop your vehicle.

The intersection of Third and Lindsey streets generates complaints because of vehicles turning right on red without stopping and/or failing to yield to bikes and pedestrians in the crosswalk. Please be cautious at these intersections. Consider this your warning. If we catch you violating the law, you will receive a ticket.

We all want a safe, welcoming and vibrant downtown. Courtesy, respect, patience and common sense go a long way in making that happen. If you notice areas that need special enforcement attention, please contact our front desk at 812-376-2600. Stay safe!

Jason Maddix is chief of the Columbus Police Department. He can be reached by phone at 376-2600 or by email at jmaddix@columbuspd.com.

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