Improve pedestrian safety in Poulsbo

Improve pedestrian safety in Poulsbo

An open letter to Mayor Becky Erickson and the Poulsbo City Council regarding pedestrian safety:

Living on 4th Avenue NE, I thoroughly enjoy walking and running the areas surrounding and including the Poulsbo downtown corridor.

For years, I have run into a conundrum.

At several of the intersections I cross, most drivers come to the intersection clearly looking only in the direction the traffic impeding their turn is coming from. An example, I will stop on the north side of the entrance/exit to the Poulsbo Rec Center that intersects with Front Street NE. A vehicle will be there or will pull up while I am there, and the driver wanting to make a right turn onto Front Street NE will look only to his left to see if there is traffic blocking his exit. He will not look for pedestrians on the right side. I will wave my arms, holler “I’m here,” and once in a while lightly tap on their vehicle to get their attention so I can continue on my run.

I can be held up waiting for seconds or minutes while the driver is hyper-focused on the traffic flow from his left. If I just stand there and wait, some see me when they take off to enter Front Street NE and make an, “Oops, sorry” face. Others do not notice me at all. They appear to be tunnel-focused straight ahead or still looking to the left only as they take off.

On one of my regular routes, there are at least nine intersections where this regularly happens: 4th Avenue NE and NE Iverson Street, Front Street NE and Jensen Way NE through Poulsbo Place I, Front Street NE and NE Peterson Street, Front Street NE and the Rec Center driveway, Front Street NE and NE Sunset Street, Front Street NE and the Martha & Mary driveway, Front Street NE and King Olaf parking lot driveway, Front Street NE and Jensen Way NE downtown, and NE Hostmark Street and 3rd Avenue NE.

In September, I stopped on the southeast corner of 4th Avenue NE and NE Iverson Street. There were cars at three of the four streets that intersect there. The lady and her male passenger in front of me at 4th Avenue NE had the right of way. She was shielding her eyes to look each way several times. Her passenger was also looking. I realized she was looking right at me but didn’t see me because of the sun, even with my hot pink jacket and pants. I walked up to the left side of her vehicle as she started to enter the intersection and lightly tapped on her car. She saw me then and was quite remorseful. I wanted to help her to see what can happen. I smiled at her and waved. I have done this at other intersections instead of waiting, hoping the driver will maybe look my way.

Over the years, I have thought, “Surely, I’m not the only one who deals with this. I have had this same issue in other communities I visit and walk or run in. Who can I contact at the city who may be able to facilitate helpful changes?” I also wanted to be able to offer suggestions, not just a complaint. I offer these:

Putting bold signs on both sides of the street well before the stop sign/light.

Painting a notice on the road leading up to the intersection.

Hanging a bold sign from the signal light. Perhaps the sign/notice could state something like, “STOP! LOOK for pedestrian traffic from BOTH SIDES of intersection BEFORE turning.”

Lately, similar pedestrian concerns have been in the local papers due to the two pedestrians struck by cars, with one dying at Front Street NE and NE Torval Canyon. Richard Walker, editor of the North Kitsap Herald, included some of my comments left for him about pedestrian safety in the Jan. 19 editorial titled, “Flags, signage more inadequate when they’re not there.”

My heart beats hard when I run fast across Highway 305 on Lincoln Road, knowing I have only a few seconds to cross before the NO CROSSING flashes. I have encountered the same concerns shared by others, but I have not seen what I describe here in any of the articles or letters.

I hope you will include this in your discussions and solutions.

Lynn Myrvang
Poulsbo