Yesterday, the Provo Police Department mentioned on its Facebook page that officers were out doing crosswalk enforcement on Center Street. With the bad weather, the police were trying to prevent kids from getting hit while walking to school.
The police should be commended for their efforts, which have been ongoing this year. Having covered police for the newspaper, I know they’re committed to making the area safer and trying to avoid the kinds of problems that left a Salt Lake boy dead earlier this week.
But unfortunately, the police are forced to spend their time and resources — and by extension the resources of the community — compensating for other people’s failures. In other words, if the street was designed better and didn’t lend itself to speeding and ignoring pedestrians, police wouldn’t have to keep patrolling the area so heavily.
Instead, however, they have to enforce laws that are thwarted by the composition of the street:
State law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the driver is traveling. The law also requires drivers to yield to pedestrians approaching from the opposite side and who are close enough to be in danger.
Officers made thirteen traffic stops, issued nine citations, and four warnings. One driver came within six inches of the officer in the crosswalk without yielding. Drivers are urged to obey the law and yield to pedestrians.
The costs of poor street design vary. Sometimes people are injured or killed, as happened recently in Salt Lake. But more often, the community just has to constantly waste tax dollars solving problems that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. And I, for one, hope that in the future we have streets that protect pedestrians and actively discourage dangerous driving.