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CALL 6: Broken Crosswalk signal highlights need for citizen reports

Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 08:18:59-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Department of Public Works has fixed a broken pedestrian signal at a busy intersection following a report from Call 6 Investigates.

Michael Hayden, 65, died February 9 while crossing just east of the intersection of West 38th Street and High School Road.

He was not using the crosswalk, according to police.

“We always encourage people to cross at the intersections or designated crosswalks," said IMPD Capt. Mike Elder, following the hit-and-run crash.

Call 6 Investigates received a tip that the crosswalk, which moves foot traffic north and south across 38th Street, is not working.

We tested the signal -- pressing the button dozens of times, both Monday evening and again Tuesday morning --but it was not working.

Specifically, the signal never changed from the red hand to the white walking figure, indicating it was safe to walk.

“That’s dangerous,” said Ryan Bonner, a pedestrian who lives in the neighborhood and has no vehicle for transportation.

Bonner used the crosswalk without the signal working.

“We gotta get that fixed,” said Bonner.

Nick Spears also uses the crosswalk regularly.

“For my safety and everybody else’s safety, it would probably be a good thing if the crosswalks did work,” said Spears.

Health By Design, a coalition aimed at improving infrastructure to increase walking, said on average, one pedestrian is hit every day in Marion County.

“Having pedestrian signals is a really important piece of ensuring that people stay safe,” said Health By Design Executive Director Kim Irwin. “People that are walking use that as a cue.  It’s very, very important that they’re functional.”

Irwin said it’s especially important in neighborhoods that have a higher number of pedestrian crashes, such as 38th and High School Road.

“Particularly in an area like that, it’s important to have infrastructure that supports safe walking, which includes signals, highly visible crosswalks, speed enforcement, that sort of thing,” said Irwin.

Irwin said she supports the city checking pedestrian signals following a crash to make sure they’re working.

“I think we should look at doing everything we can, and using every bit of information we can in a systematic way,” said Irwin.

Call 6 Investigates contacted the Department of Public Works Tuesday morning to inquire about the broken crosswalk signal.

Jennifer Hashem, spokesperson for DPW, sent RTV6 an email that afternoon indicating the button had been fixed.

The DPW transportation engineering administrator found an issue with the push button not telling the crosswalk signal to change to the walk symbol, said Hashem.

“As with any technical device, these buttons can sometimes malfunction,” said Hashem. “DPW is responsible for more than 1200 traffic signals in the city and as a result, we need people to be our eyes and ears when they see something that doesn’t appear right.”

Hashem said the city received a request from the Mayor’s Action Center in September 2016 regarding the pedestrian crosswalk, and the problem was corrected within 3 days of the MAC report.

“There was also a regular inspection of this pedestrian crosswalk in December 2016 and no malfunctions were found,” said Hashem.   “Had this matter been reported to the Mayor’s Action Center or RequestIndy it would have been addressed within minutes of the report.”

Hashem emphasized the RequestIndy website and app are available 24 hours a day and reports on traffic signals are sent to DPW dispatch immediately.

You can also call the Mayor’s Action Center after hours, by choosing option 2 on the menu, which sends callers directly to the DPW dispatch for urgent traffic needs.

How to report problems with traffic or pedestrian signals: