July 9, 2005
Like many people who walk for transportation in Colorado Springs, Carol Bryant watches out for another pedestrian — the kind who shows up for a few seconds at crosswalk signals. The illuminated symbol of a man walking appears too briefly for Bryant to make it across North Academy Boulevard, she said. Bryant crosses the road to shop at King Soopers near Austin Bluffs Parkway or Walgreens to the south, she said. “When the light changes, and the little man shows that you can walk, you cannot even take five steps, and it has changed already,” she said. But the flashing red hand that replaces the walk signal is not intended to signal pedestrians to quit walking, said Robert Helt, a senior traffic engineer for Colorado Springs. The flashing hand means anyone who’s started crossing the intersection should continue to the other side, Helt said, and pedestrians who haven’t started should wait. Only a steady hand symbol means the intersection should be clear of pedestrians, Helt said. Colorado Springs crosswalks give pedestrians more time to cross intersections than required under federal rules, Helt said. The walking man symbol typically stays up for five to seven seconds, and the cycle for crossing an intersection allows for someone who’s walking about 4 feet per second. That’s a leisurely stroll for most people. The important thing is to remember to press the button for a signal at intersection crossings, Helt said. Then the traffic lights add pedestrians into their rotation, giving walkers more time to cross. OUR TEST WALK — Using a stopwatch, we recorded rough times of the crosswalk signals at Academy Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway. Crossing nine lanes of traffic on Austin Bluffs, the walk signal lasted about five seconds, the flashing hand was an additional 37 seconds, and the crosswalk was clear of traffic for about 55 seconds, total. Crossing 12 lanes of traffic on Academy, the walk signal lasted about five seconds, the flashing hand was an additional 34 seconds, and the crosswalk was clear of traffic for about 46 seconds, total. Helt said the city sometimes can accommodate people who need crosswalk timing adjusted. To reach the Traffic Management Center, call 385-5966 and ask to speak to a timing technician. COSMIX BEGINS Area politicians were exultant this week as construction began on widening Interstate 25 through most of the city. Some motorists, meanwhile, groaned as work between Garden of the Gods Road and Fillmore Street produced the first traffic delays. The Colorado Springs Metro Interstate Expansion project, otherwise known as COSMIX, is a $150 million effort that’s supposed to be done by the end of 2007. To follow the project online, visit www.cosmixproject. com. Have a question or comment about getting around the Pikes Peak region? Send it to Perry Swanson, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 476-4878.