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Councilmember Thomas honks and waves for crosswalk safety

Jul 25, 2018 02:52PM ● Published by Holly Vasic

Corey Thomas with Andrew Stoddard and his family at the June 18 honk and wave near 3000 South and State Street. (Courtesy of Corey Thomas)

By Holly Vasic | h.vasic@mycityjournals.com 

After seeing a person get hit due to a driver not noticing them at a crosswalk, South Salt Lake District 2’s Councilmember Corey Thomas is pushing for change when it comes to crosswalk safety. Oftentimes pedestrians must walk the length of six lanes of traffic with only two white lines, or an inconspicuous street sign, to warn distracted drivers to stop. 

So, on June 18 at the crosswalk on 3000 South and State Street Councilmembers Thomas and Shane Siwik could be seen with residents and friends holding bright yellow signs that said, “Kids cross here,” “Please slowdown,” and “Watch for pedestrians.” Thomas never saw herself being passionate about making crosswalks safer in her city, but her inspiration came from meeting a man in a wheelchair who filed a complaint about another crosswalk last year. “The other thing that really kicked it in gear,” Thomas said, “is I stopped and saw a bicyclist get hit at the cross walk.”

The honk and wave took place at the crosswalk where Thomas witnessed the event.

“I was headed to the fire station for that city barbeque and it was that fire station that went on the call,” Thomas recalled. Fortunately, the bicyclist was ok and Thomas was told he left the scene before the ambulance arrived.

During the budget season Thomas asked the city council members for $100,000 to place yellow flashing crossing lights that warn drivers when pedestrians are about to cross on four of five city crosswalks she thinks need the most improvement.

“The whole council was unanimous in allocating the $100,000, I’m very thankful to each of them,” Thomas said. “If I can start and fix a few of them next year maybe they will allocate that $100,000 again.”

Thomas has received support and not just from fellow council members. Andrew Stoddard, running for Utah House District 44, attended the honk and wave with his family and Senator Gene Davis, Senator Todd Weiler and Representative Angela Romero said they will help out if needed, according to Thomas.

Considering the 3000 South State Street crosswalk is owned by the state, not the city, and is under the control of UDOT and thus any upgrades would have to be done by UDOT. Thomas wants to encourage UDOT and show them they are taking the initiative on their own streets, and “they’ll see it’s an important issue for our city.” The honk and wave brought attention to local news outlets, such as Channel 2, and word got around.

“The day after the interview the head of UDOT contacted me. He told me he had no idea that this crosswalk was an issue,” Thomas said. She was suspicious of this but did not press the issue. “I’m really happy about the efforts UDOT has started on this.”

She is looking forward to what comes next — UDOT is currently performing a study to see if the need is great enough to install yellow flashing lights to warn drivers a pedestrian is about to cross.

During the honk and wave, Siwik, Thomas and other attendees experienced the fear of crossing the street first hand. Siwik chronicled the escapades on his Facebook page.

“Shane has been amazing support,” Thomas said about Siwik, noting he offered himself up to be the Guinea pig to cross the crosswalk. Thomas said drivers often don’t think about pedestrians.

 “I just want those that have a harder time getting around to feel safer,” she said. She wants them to feel like somebody is watching out for them and is taking their needs seriously.

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