City Council voted to restore the crosswalk on Wren Avenue and Byers Street near El Roble Park, after residents from that neighborhood repeatedly complained to City staff when they removed it over the summer.
The crosswalk was removed in August in during a major paving project on Wren Avenue from Uvas Park Drive to Mantelli Street. The crosswalk was deemed unsafe because it was not controlled (with blinking lights or a push-button signal).
The City’s decision to remove the crosswalk was based on studies that say it is more dangerous for pedestrians to cross the street at an uncontrolled crosswalk than with no crosswalk at all – the uncontrolled crosswalk gave pedestrians a false sense of safety and caused them to be more bold than if they were to cross the street at their own risk, according to staff.
During Monday’s meeting, Don Dey, city engineer, gave a 30-minute report that pulled from studies all over the world that indicate uncontrolled crosswalks are more unsafe than no crosswalk at all.
But not all Council members were convinced.
“You pulled research from Los Angeles, Sweden and all over the world. But what about Gilroy? How many accidents have been right at that spot?” Councilman Dion Bracco said.
Four residents of the neighborhood near Byers Street and Wren Avenue spoke during public comment, asking that the City restore the crosswalk that had been there for more than 30 years.
“Once they removed the crosswalk, cars just don’t slow down as much,” said resident and mother Ginger Hobert.
On a 5-2 vote, Council decided to direct staff to repaint the crosswalk, and later return to Council with a report of how much it would cost to build a safer, more visible crosswalk. Opposing votes came from Councilman Peter Arellano and Councilman Peter Leroe-Munoz, who agreed with City staff’s report that said painting two lines on the street is an unsafe option.
But the majority of the Council members were for immediate restoration of the uncontrolled crosswalk.
“We need to order that city staff puts two lines back by Friday at 5 p.m.,” Councilman Bob Dillon said, turning red.
While Council didn’t order staff to repaint the crosswalk by the end of the week, they did indicate staff to complete the project “as soon as possible.”