June 23, 2024

Bexley Pedestrian safety improved

This is the location and position of the accident on Jan. 25, 2024.

Photo by Megan Martinez

Car accidents involving pedestrians are common in heavy foot traffic areas. Bexley Police Department has implemented more technology to aid in pedestrian safety on E. Main St.

“A lot of the runners that you’ll see that go out early in the mornings when it’s dark. They’re lit up like Christmas trees. That helps [drivers] out tremendously.” Adams said.

On Jan. 25, 2024, a university student was the first this year to suffer in a pedestrian accident. The student sustained serious injuries. Classmates even signed “get well” cards after the victim’s significant time away from class. 

Public records state, “Unit 2 [driver] was westbound on E. Main St. The driver admitted to going around another vehicle in an attempt to beat the light, thus running the red light. The pedestrian was crossing E. Main St. southbound in a marked crosswalk with a crossing signal. Unit 2 struck the pedestrian.”

Many university students walk onto E. Main St. due to its proximity to the university and versatile shops thus, students are often pedestrians involved in these accidents

The university Chief of Police Scott Kunkle advised pedestrians to always wait before crossing.

While the university and Bexley PD have deterrents such as cones, painted crosswalks and flashing lights, drivers still won’t stop for pedestrians.

Three years ago, a similar situation occurred, however, it was a hit and run. Public records state, “On 10/28/21 at 10:22pm, Unit 1 [driver’s vehicle] was traveling west on E. Main Street. Unit 1 ran the red light at S. Drexel Avenue and struck two pedestrians in the crosswalk. Unit 1 left the scene without stopping. The two pedestrians were transported by CFD Medic 20 and 815 to Grant Hospital. There were parts of Unit 1 left at the scene. The accident was caught on a traffic camera and the vehicle can be seen on other traffic cameras. There were two witnesses to the accident.” 

The victims were severely injured and an investigation found the driver in the days following the accident. In an article from the CW Columbus, friends of the victims wondered why the driver didn’t stop and detectives said, “No matter how afraid you are, stop right away, report it, do what you can to get assistance there,” said Detective Sgt. Peter Brickley. “It’s the law.” Kunkle agreed: “Vehicles are required by state law to stop.” 

An anonymous Bexley community member said, “[Drivers] don’t respect it. They say pedestrians have the right of way, but usually we don’t have the right because you can’t pass, you’re afraid to get killed.”

Both accidents suggest the timing between drivers running a red light and pedestrians walking needed to be changed. 

In 2022, the Bexley PD Service Department changed the amount of time Bexley traffic lights remain red from five seconds to 10 seconds. Community Liaison Officer Clayton Adams said, “That has drastically lowered the amount of pedestrians struck by vehicles.”

Bexley PD provided comparison statistics of car accidents involving pedestrians from 2021–2024. The statistics show a dramatic decrease of 13 accidents involving pedestrians to three.

Columbus community member Carl said deterrent cones would be a good addition to increase safety:  “It’s always money well spent to add to safety.”

Bexley’s finance budget allocates a set amount to maintenance of Bexley, which includes pedestrian automated and audible signals, deterrent cones and painted crosswalks. 

The Service Department, however, avoided costs by adjusting a setting within the traffic light software to delay the changing of the lights.

The mayor of Bexley, the university’s Student Government, Kunkle and university representatives set up a walk-through of the university’s campus in order to address safety precautions.

The City of Bexley attempts to finance certain measures suggested by Student Government or others during the walk-through. A recent result of this was the addition of flashing pedestrian lights on College Ave.

While a longer red light seems bothersome to drivers, it actually allows drivers to have more time to notice and react to the heavily foot trafficked area. Pedestrians will also have more time to safely cross.

Bexley community member Neil Ambrose said, “This one of the safest places in central Ohio, for sure. The Bexley police are sensational.” 

Columbus PD did not respond for a comment.

Another member of the Bexley community suggested that young pedestrians look up from their phones.

Officers Adams and Kunkle agree that blame is neither here nor there. Both drivers and pedestrians must pay attention and keep a look out for one another.

Author

  • Megan Martinez

    Megan is a second-year Political Science, History, and Spanish major. She is the President of Students Latinx of Affinities, the Humanities Representatives in Student Government, a Smooth Transitions mentor and a member of the Capital University Dance Team. In her free time, she loves to watch movies.

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