Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Diane Davis walks across Edgewater Boulevard in Foster City where the City Council decided to install flashing lights after a major auto versus pedestrian accident.
Pleas for enhanced traffic safety measures in Foster City persuaded the City Council Monday night to overturn a previous ruling to remove a crosswalk where a 17-year-old was seriously injured and install flashing pedestrian lights instead.
A slew of pedestrian-related car accidents over the past few months prompted residents to request slower speed limits and either a traffic light or four-way stop signs at one of the city’s busiest intersections on Edgewater Boulevard and Port Royal Avenue where the girl was hit.
In a surprising vote on Feb. 3, the council opted to remove the crosswalk markings based on legal advice because it feared the city would be liable for future accidents if it went against traffic experts who didn’t recommend a stop sign.
The council regretted the decision when it found out pedestrians would still be able to cross per the California Vehicle Code and decided adding increased safety measures was appropriate.
Although stop signs, traffic lights and slower speeds were dismissed, the suspect intersection will be enhanced with rectangular rapid flashing beacons pedestrians can activate by pushing a button and additional painted lines.
However, some feel the council’s actions did little to ease both pedestrian and driving hazards.
Councilman Herb Perez was a strong advocate for stop signs but had to recuse himself from voting because of his business’ proximity to the intersection. He’s apprehensive about the new measures, Perez said.
“I’m happy that my fellow councilmembers reversed their decision to remove the crosswalk. I’m optimistic that the additional safety measure will enhance the safety of that particular crosswalk,” Perez said Tuesday. “I am not convinced that it does not require even more safety measures in terms of either a stop sign or stoplight. But I will be patient and at least it’s a step in the right direction.”
Diane Davis lives a few houses down from the intersection and said there’s already signs in place that do little to curb excessive speeding.
“It was a gross disservice because it did not address the drivers. There is no visibility for drivers on Port Royal and pedestrians are only half of the equation,” Davis said Tuesday at the intersection.
Numerous citizens and neighbors of the questionable intersection told anecdotes of speeding, jaywalking and concerns over their safety at the meeting.
At the meeting, Mayor Charlie Bronitsky said the council can only do so much and the public should traverse responsibly because distraction is the real cause of the dangerous driving conditions. Bronitsky said he wants more educational programs and saturated traffic enforcement patrols.
“It seems very simple to say ‘lets put up a stop sign,’ but frankly I don’t think that’s going to solve the issue,” Bronitsky said. “People are going to disregard the law because they have until now … [We have to] make sure people understand we’re going to require in Foster City that whether they like it or not, that they’re going to obey the traffic laws.”
Former mayor Pam Frisella agreed but it’s in the city’s purview to make physical enhancements.
“We voted for [the council] to ensure our health and safety and welfare; a crosswalk fits into that so it is your responsibility,” Frisella said. “Everyone’s distracted, they’re in a hurry, they’re on their phones. I don’t know if educating the public is going to work. I think giving more traffic tickets will work. … We can talk about stupid people until we’re blue in the face; but I know from eight years of sitting where you’re sitting that people in Foster City think they’re entitled. But they need a wake-up call.”
The city is growing and with large corporations abounding, many Foster City drivers don’t live there, said resident Hernan Santos.
“We are going to continue to have businesses like Visa and Gilead. … It’s easy to say we can educate residents but the city is no longer just for us,” Santos said.
Edgewater Boulevard separates a residential neighborhood and busy shopping centers families like to frequent, but high speed limits and unprotected intersections are making the area unsafe, said resident Esther Beal.
Several residents adamantly requested slower speed limits and Councilman Art Kiesel said he sees distracted speeders frequently, but reducing the limit isn’t legally an option.
The council will continue to evaluate traffic safety measures in Foster City later in the year when it reviews enforcement policies, Bronitsky said.
But the council and the public ultimately agreed, distracted drivers and inattentive pedestrians can no longer be tolerated.
“If people don’t take personal responsibility, we could put a brick wall there and someone will get smashed into a brick wall,” Bronitsky said. “Because people are not paying attention to their own safety, they’re not paying attention to others.”
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