Mailbag: Underpasses safer than crosswalks

Mailbag: Underpasses safer than crosswalks

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In recent years vehicular, bus and human-powered transport have all grown dramatically in South Corvallis —as population, housing, and new businesses grew. Multiple crosswalks with flashing lights (when working) have appeared faster than overloaded citizens could integrate them into our ancient brains. Neanderthal man didn’t have crosswalks with flashing lights, but our brains, after shrinking 10% since 1900, are not that much bigger.

On the surface, it seems Stone Age to funnel walkers, cyclists and skateboarders into a crosswalk perpendicular to and physically at cross-purposes with an ever-increasing stream of multi-ton cars and trucks, dinosaurs of the internally-conflicted Fossil Fuel Era.

One suggestion: build a spiffy, waterproof multi-use underpass. An underpass might cost more but would save lives. The number of errors, physiological states, weather and light-based misperceptions, ongoing medical issues, cell phone users, new drivers, vehicle malfunctions and personal quirks is practically infinite, virtually assuring more accidents and fatalities with a primitive, street-level crosswalk.

One evening during the Corvallis Police Department's concentrated traffic enforcement period, I observed 20 out of 20 cars exceeding the 25 mph speed limit on the digital display. Eight to 10 registered over 30 mph, although this device read about 2.5 mph high. The speed limit there should be 20 mph and the area should be patrolled irregularly, long term, by Corvallis police.

Regardless, if the two forms of transport were completely separated by an appropriate, well-designed underpass, it would be a big improvement, saving lives and creating a much-needed intangible: community peace of mind.

Chris C. Foulke

Corvallis

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