Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Pedestrians run Hailey gauntlet

What is it going to take to make pedestrian travel in Hailey safe? Another fatality, another child being hit on a bicycle?

Since May, this newspaper has reported three pedestrian or bicycle collisions with vehicles, all of which occurred at Bullion and Main streets in Hailey. One was fatal.

Recognizing a problem, the Hailey Police Department in May set up an announced "sting" operation to educate drivers about yielding to pedestrians. They nabbed 37 drivers who failed to stop for people in crosswalks. Lt. Jeff Gunter said that with more officers, they could have caught many more.

Police repeated the effort in September, and 20 drivers were stopped for failing to yield to pedestrians.

There are solutions.

The Hailey City Council, the police department and the Hailey Chamber of Commerce need to take a much more aggressive role in implementing any number of them.

They can forcefully lobby the Idaho Transportation Department for left-hand turn signals. They can embed lights in the highway crosswalk to improve night crossings. They can step up enforcement efforts--regular "sting" operations--to educate drivers. They can install signs heralding a pedestrian zone, or orange flags for pedestrians to carry. They can press for and enforce a lower speed limit.

It's time for city leaders to step up and lead. Make Hailey a safe, pedestrian-friendly town.

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