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Signs and fines improve pedestrian safety in Superior

Superior's Business Improvement District has pushed to improve pedestrian safety along Tower Avenue and Belknap Street. Signs posted along the roadways reminding drivers of their obligation to stop for pedestrians have been in place for a couple ...

Superior's Business Improvement District has pushed to improve pedestrian safety along Tower Avenue and Belknap Street.

Signs posted along the roadways reminding drivers of their obligation to stop for pedestrians have been in place for a couple of months. Now it's a matter of pedestrians and drivers getting used to the signs.

"I think drivers are having to get used to them, and pedestrians are needing to be just a little more aggressive about letting drivers know they want to cross the street," said Kaye Tenerelli, director of the district. "Standing back on the sidewalk having a conversation doesn't indicate to the driver that you're wanting to cross the street."

Observing the sign at North 14th Street and Tower Avenue, she said the signs appear to be working pretty well. While there are still drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians, she said she's still seen an improvement in pedestrian safety.

"Overall, we've had a lot of positive comments from people in the community about the signs -- that they like them; they're seeing people being more cautious," Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters said.

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Well enough, in fact, that the Business Improvement District board of directors decided to reimburse the city for the cost of the signs along Tower Avenue and Belknap Street.

"I had no idea they were going to sponsor that many and share that cost," Peters said. "I knew that they were looking and helping a little bit; they're purchasing seven signs that cost about $240, $250 apiece. So that's significant in helping the city, and they're a great partner with us."

This fall, he said, the police department will step up enforcement efforts to improve pedestrian safety.

The city received a grant to help with related overtime costs through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's pedestrian safety grant program.

"We're encouraging our officers to be cognizant of the fact that we need to spend time monitoring pedestrian safety and enforcing pedestrian safety laws," Peters said.

He said with the help of the grant funding, the department will schedule officers to target enforcement of the state's pedestrian laws.

Fines for failing to yield to a pedestrian can be quite costly, said Superior Patrol Capt. Matt Markon. Fines range from $175.30 and four demerit points for a first offense of failing to yield to a pedestrian at a controlled intersection, like Belknap and Tower, to $362.50 for passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian.

"We do see that, and the motoring public sees that all the time," Markon said. "It's a huge safety problem there."

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