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Bergen traffic light critical to pedestrian safety

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By Rocky Graziano

Traffic lights should remain at the Bergen Parkway/King Soopers/Bergen Village intersection.
This intersection and its traffic lights, when first installed, provided for improved flow of traffic for both motorists and pedestrians. It also maximized safety for both. Motorists at the intersection were controlled by signal lights that included left-turn arrows. Free right-turn lanes and merging lanes were provided to expedite traffic flow. Pedestrians were aided by safety islands equipped with manually operated switches controlling the signals to allow them to safely cross the intersection. Automobile traffic was somewhat slowed by those making left turns, but this design allowed for a great measure of safety for both motorists and pedestrians.
The county currently plans to remove the traffic lights and install a permanent four-way stop-sign system instead. It appears that this system might provide for slightly faster traffic flow for motorists, who then would have to pause only briefly before proceeding. Motorists, of course, would need to act courteously to allow those first at the intersection to proceed. Based upon the trial period during the test operation of the stop-sign system, with the existing lights flashing red, automobile traffic appears to have been expedited somewhat. The lack of left-turn arrows, however, could cause future accidents that may not be occurring at present due to the flashing red lights now in place. The proposed stop-sign system might be acceptable if there were no pedestrian traffic to consider, because motorists would then only have to concern themselves with other vehicles.
However, there is considerable pedestrian traffic at this intersection, some of it made up of senior citizens living at nearby Rocky Mountain Village, many of whom do not own cars. Also, pedestrian traffic is expected to increase due to the new NEAT trail that will eventually connect all of the schools on the north side of Evergreen. It appears that the county neglected to take into account that pedestrian traffic is already present and could increase.
The proposed four-way stop-sign system would increase traffic danger for senior pedestrians who now use this intersection. They would have to scramble across the intersection while attempting to simultaneously watch traffic from the right, from the left, and especially for motorists who do not use turn signals before turning. This is particularly difficult for seniors with impaired peripheral vision. Many are unable to walk quickly across the road, increasing their risk.
Due to the possible negative effects on pedestrians who are not protected by a 3000-pound steel cage equipped with air bags, we respectfully request that the traffic department reconsider its decision to remove signal lights from this intersection. The existing lights should be repaired and the intersection should remain as originally designed. The net cost to do this, considering the cost to remove the signals, is small compared to the cost of killing or maiming an individual.

This week’s Candid Curmudgeon column was written by Rocky Graziano. The Evergreen Curmudgeons are a group of retired professional men who are citizen advocates.