The problem: Many people cross Burhans Boulevard in the middle of the block between West Franklin Street and West Church Street, often stepping out in front of traffic.
At lunchtime Wednesday, seven people crossed the street midblock in the span of five minutes.
“I can’t tell you how many times that I have nearly killed someone,” a reader wrote in an email. “The worst is after dark because they just step off the sidewalk.”
She also noted that the area is one block from the Hagerstown Police Department’s headquarters.
Who could fix it: City of Hagerstown
What they say: Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said his department tries to address jaywalking through public education, rather than by issuing tickets.
“I don’t think in the priority of what we do, issuing tickets for jaywalking is going to be something we’re going to do a lot of,” Smith said.
He said pedestrians crossing streets should cross at intersections where possible, never step out suddenly, and be mindful of factors such as whether their clothing will be visible in the darkness and whether they have been drinking.
“When a car comes into contact with a pedestrian, the pedestrian loses every time,” Smith said.
Smith suggested that the city’s engineering department could take a look at the block of Burhans Boulevard to see if there is a place for a crosswalk.
“The way the road is so wide there at Church and Burhans, that would be a difficult place for a pedestrian to get across, even with the light,” Smith said.
Tim Young, an engineering designer for the city, said the city observed the jaywalking problem during a recent lane reconfiguration on Burhans Boulevard. The problem is worsened by the fact that George Street ends at Burhans Boulevard midblock, and some pedestrians choose to cross there instead of walking to an intersection.
Putting a crosswalk midblock would not be a good solution because traffic backs up beyond that point, Young said.
“Maybe we could look at doing something to let people know that they shouldn’t be crossing there,” he said.
Young said city engineering staff would look into that possibility.
— Compiled by Heather Keels
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