Police say the problem isn’t a shortage of crosswalks, it is getting pedestrians to use them


Huntsville police say despite visible crosswalks, many people simply ignore them before crossing busy streets like University Drive.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Earlier this week, a man was run over and killed while trying to cross Bob Wallace Avenue on a bicycle.

Surveillance video showed Julius Smith was hit by two vehicles outside Papa Jacks convenience store.

People we asked say they're disappointed there's no crosswalk at the spot where he was killed.

Bob Wallace Avenue isn't nearly as dangerous for pedestrian accidents as some of the other busy roads in Huntsville. Police say there've been five accidents in the last year on Bob Wallace, but they get more calls for pedestrians being hit on University Drive.

No matter how many times he sees it, Lt. Michael Johnson says cases like what happened to Julius Smith on Monday morning are awful to watch.

"It was obvious if they'd walked down another hundred feet, there was a traffic control device for them to use," Lt. Johnson said.

Smith was hit and killed while trying to cross Bob Wallace Avenue early Monday morning. Historically, Huntsville police say Bob Wallace isn't as big of a problem area for pedestrians as corridors like University.

"We'll provide crossing treatments rather than simply painting lines in the middle of a road, which doesn't make a crossing any safer from a driver's standpoint," Huntsville traffic engineer Dan Sanders said.

University is one of the many roads Huntsville traffic engineers are studying, having some of the busiest areas in town for foot traffic.

"We set up a data collection camera there and then we reviewed the crossing data," Sanders said.

Sanders and Lt. Johnson say in most cases of pedestrians being killed, the problem isn't a shortage of crosswalks, it's people not using them.

"Their urgency to get across the road was a lot more than what they were willing to wait for," Lt. Johnson said.

The most recent fatality on University appears to have happened in March of 2017, but according to reports, there've been at least five people who've been hit by cars and killed on University in the last 10 years.

City engineers we talked with say they're already designing multi-use traffic lanes, including more sidewalks and bike lanes as part of Huntsville's "Big Picture" initiative.


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