Pedestrian Safety Measures around Marshall's Huntington Campus.

Pedestrian Safety Measures around Marshall's Huntington Campus.

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Josh Keck started this petition to Mayor, City of Huntington Steve Williams and

On Oct 18th, a Marshall professor was struck by a vehicle while crossing the road at the intersection of Hal Greer Boulevard and 3rd Avenue. On Nov 4th, a Marshall student, Maribeth, was struck and killed on 3rd Ave between 18th and 20th St. On Nov 23rd, the night before Thanksgiving, I was hit by a distracted driver running a red light in the crosswalk at 18th St and 3rd Avenue, just steps away from Maribeth's memorial.

This is the second time this year that I've been hit by a vehicle while running on 3rd Ave and Marshall's campus, the first time was March 2, 2021. I'm not hurt but I am very angry and upset that This. Keeps. Happening.

It's unacceptable. 

I'm a runner. I run around Marshall's campus a lot. It's one of two places in Huntington where I can run with minimal concern for cars because of the very few places where cars can turn into campus. I run by Maribeth's memorial flowers a couple times a week. I didn't know her but as a runner those flowers are a poignant reminder to always be on alert.

It's important you understand that the purpose of this petition is not to place blame on drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists. We ALL need to act safely and responsibly while participating in the transit system but that's not always reality. I've accidentally ran red lights in places where I wasn't familiar. I've been in wrecks where I was at fault. I've jaywalked in places I shouldn't. It happens. We all do our best to be safe and follow the rules but it happens. However in this instance, in this area.. it keeps happening. Why. Why does it keep happening. It's because of a systemic failure by our leaders to put in place the necessary deterrents and precautions that will protect ALL users of our public transit. 

It doesn't have to be this way. You can help me make sure that our leaders know that enough is enough. We are not going to tolerate their negligence any longer. 

I'm not an engineer, I don't know all the answers, but here some real damn simple ideas on ways to improve pedestrian safety in this area - most of which should be acted upon immediately. Not in 3 months, not in 3 years, not in 3 decades - right now. 

1. Improved crosswalks. Many of the crosswalks on campus are badly worn down, I don't think they've been painted in over 5 years. We need yellow crosswalk signs with flashing lights, clearly marked crosswalk paths with fresh white paint, and lighting embedded in the pavement that pedestrians can trigger before crossing. There should also be white paint on the roads depicting pedestrians and the words 'SLOW DOWN' in all lanes of traffic on 3rd and 5th avenue before entering campus. Signs discouraging jaywalking should also be considered, as well as physical barriers. Specific areas around campus don't have crosswalks at all and they badly need them. Some of the crosswalks are too far spread apart so pedestrians jaywalk when they shouldn't. Between 16th and 20th St, there are 6 crosswalks and 5 stoplights on 5th Avenue but only 4 crosswalks and 4 stoplights on 3rd Avenue. So not only do you have dangerous vision-obstructing on-street parking on 3rd avenue, but you have fewer opportunities to slow down traffic and to cross what is then effectively a 6-lane highway. At the very least, 3rd avenue needs one more streetlight and two more crosswalks just to be on par with 5th avenue. EDIT - On 11/29, I saw a surveyor contracted by the city to plan a crosswalk between the stadium parking lot and the Marshall rec center! That's great news and it proves that the yes, the city can actually do something about this problem. 

2. More streetlights on the sidewalks - EDIT -There are actually plenty of streetlights. However, on 11/29/2021, I counted EIGHTEEN broken streetlights around campus and three of those broken lights are at the intersection where I was hit. The streetlight where Maribeth's memorial is laid - broken! So I'm editing this bullet point to be this: Marshall's Office of Public Safety needs to enact a weekly walkthrough on campus to identify broken streetlights and report them to the proper authorities for repair. They need to regularly encourage Marshall employees to report broken streetlights at any of their buildings. 

3. Heavier police presence. This isn't just about the drivers - we need to be out ticketing for speeding, running red lights, and jaywalking pedestrians. We need to make people less comfortable so they stay alert while in this area. This responsibility falls both on the City of Huntington and Marshall Police Departments. 

4. Lower speed limits. I could quote numerous studies but it's not rocket science to understand that as vehicle speed decreases, pedestrian chances of survival increase. A 25MPH speed limit, at least on 3rd avenue, with proper enforcement, could tremendously lower the risk of fatality without dramatically affecting commute time. It's just 4 blocks. Don't like that idea? How about:

5. Introducing legislation to allow for Automated enforcement cameras for school and park zones. WV state legislators outlawed automated enforcement cameras back in 2006 (HB4004). We are one of only 6 states to outlaw this technology outright, putting is in the stark minority. This safety tool was completely taken off the table before it was ever given a chance. The ban has never been challenged despite now having multitudes of evidence showing how cameras can dramatically increase overall road safety in targeted areas. Now 15 years later, the City of Huntington Police Department finds itself short-staffed and is unable to enforce traffic laws around campus, a failure that’s obvious to anyone who spends any amount of time there. Red-light and speed cameras can allow local law enforcement agencies to enforce our traffic laws remotely, efficiently, and fairly. We are calling on our legislators to introduce an amendment to this law to allow for automated enforcement cameras in schools and parks so that we can enforce our street laws without having to commit understaffed police resources to monitoring traffic. If a bill were to pass, we will expect to see cameras placed on Marshall’s campus promptly thereafter.

There are more sophisticated ways of improving this area, like putting in center islands, jaywalking barriers, and removing the on-street parking, but I think these are the easiest and simplest to enact and will tremendously improve the pedestrian safety around campus immediately after being enacted. Remember - this isn't just about the drivers. We have to make EVERYONE more uncomfortable so that they act with more caution while around campus. 

I would urge you to PLEASE consider signing this petition to call upon Marshall University, the City of Huntington, and the WV Division of Highways to take immediate actions necessary to improve pedestrian safety measures on campus.

Your signature on this petition will send an automated email to the Mayor's Office, Marshall's Director of Public Safety, and the WV Division of Highways District 2 Safety Officer calling on them to enact these basic safety measures! I will also be attending the Dec 13th Huntington City Council meeting to bring this to their attention. 

Be the change!

Thank you

Josh Keck 

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