City manager lets traffic chief overrule him on marked crosswalk at 24th and Colorado

       Just when it seemed Old Colorado City would get a marked crosswalk at its busiest unsignalized intersection - 24th Street and Colorado Avenue - the plan was vetoed last week by City Traffic Engineer David Krauth.
       Painting a crosswalk across Colorado at 24th might “give pedestrians a sense of entitlement and a false sense of security that a crosswalk will protect them,” he explained in a phone interview. “That could make them a little less attentive to cross-traffic. And in an uncontrolled location, that's not a good thing.”
       The decision went contrary to the opinion stated by City Manager Lorne Kramer at the July 5 meeting of the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District's Advisory Committee, that he had “no problem with” a crosswalk at that location. However, City Parking Administrator Greg Warnke, Kramer's liaison to the district, said last week that Kramer decided after the meeting to let Krauth have the final say on the matter.
       “I probably don't have a printable reaction,” was the initial comment by Committee Chair Judy Kasten, after hearing about the city's change of heart. With people crossing the avenue regularly at 24th - because of Bancroft Park events, the Farmers' Market and Pikes Peak National Bank on the south west/east corners of 24th Street marking the eastern entry to Old Colorado City - “it's very much a hazard,” Kasten said.
       The district has been requesting a crosswalk, stoplight or flashing light at the location for several years to slow motorists down and help pedestrians cross the street. The new denial, especially after Kramer's encouragement at the meeting, “is just too sad,” she said. “I tried to cross today, and I had to jog across the street. You can't get across if you're not wearing tennis shoes.”
       Typically, nationwide, Krauth said, pedestrians are “three times as likely to be hit” in no-stoplight marked crosswalks, which is the reason the city policy is to avoid having them. He conceded that the city does have one downtown (on South Tejon Street), but said that's different because the street is narrower there than Colorado Avenue's 60-foot width at 24th Street, and is less busy.
       And, it's not as if there are no breaks in the traffic. With a timed light at 25th Street and two pedestrian-activated lights within half a block (at Colbrunn Court and in front of Goodwill Industries), pedestrians generally have openings to cross at least “every few minutes.”
       Manitou Springs has included some mid-block, no-stoplight crosswalks with its downtown revitalization. Krauth said he has not studied that situation as yet.
       Over a year ago, John Georgeson, chief executive officer of Pikes Peak National Bank, wrote a letter to the city stating that 24th and Colorado was dangerous and asking for a stoplight. “I don't think a marked crosswalk would solve anything,” he said, “unless you did what Manitou does, with signs giving pedestrians the right of way.”
       A prior City Traffic study indicated there is no need for a light there at 24th and Colorado.
       Frank Schmidt, who manages the Farmers' Market, suggested that Krauth “should talk to the Manitou engineer.” And, even if there is a city policy on crosswalks, he suggested there “should be some leeway” with respect to Old Colorado City's unique situation.
       “It's tough,” Krauth said. “I know a lot of people don't understand it. I'd be very willing to work with Old Colorado City to see what can be done.”

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