About a year ago in this space, we used the term "crosswalk from hell" to describe a dangerous pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Snelling and Lincoln avenues at the edge of the Macalester College campus in St. Paul.
We held up that particular crossing as a glaring example of what can happen when motorists routinely disregard the laws of the road and put pedestrians at risk. The St. Paul crosswalk had been one of hundreds of no-signal — yet fairly well-marked — crossings in the Twin Cities where cars are supposed to yield the right of way and stop but too often fail to even slow down.
But no more. Thanks to the efforts of officials from the city's Department of Public Works, the state Department of Transportation and Macalester, improved signage and pedestrian-activated flashing lights have been installed. It took nearly three years of lobbying by Macalester and about $42,000 in total costs shared by MnDOT, Public Works and the college. In the meantime, sadly, several accidents left students, neighbors and college employees injured — some seriously.
Minnesota's right-of-way laws are unambiguous. But on city streets too often traveled by distracted drivers who are in a hurry to get from Point A to B, life is getting more dangerous for pedestrians. Let's hope the public-private effort that finally coalesced to address the dangerous crosswalk at Snelling and Lincoln will inspire similar efforts to make life safer for pedestrians elsewhere in the metro area.