By Tia Lynn Ivey
Chickens aren’t the only ones crossing the road to get to the other side. Pedestrians hold out the same hope that they, too, can cross Madison city streets and make it to the other side in one piece.
However, a number of “close calls” have prompted the Madison City Council to form a committee to research strategies to make city streets safer for pedestrians.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman announced that the new committee will be comprised of City Councilman Rick Blanton, City Manager David Nunn, Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn, and local citizen Jamie Williams who recently experienced a “close-call” while crossing Main Street with her golden retriever.
“I would like to appoint a committee tonight for this project so that they can talk to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and other safety agencies to see what we can do about this,” said Perriman. “Drivers are just not respecting our pedestrians when they are getting ready to cross..”
Perriman urged the new committee to come back to the council when they have formed a plan to enhance pedestrian safety in the City of Madison.
“As soon as you get some insight on this, please come report back to us,” urged Perriman.
The council discussed ways to educate the public, both drivers and pedestrians, on the importance of remaining alert and responsible on the roadways.
“Sometimes crosswalks give people a false sense of security,” said Councilwoman Chris Hodges, who urged pedestrians to be aware while crossing the road and to make eye contact with oncoming cars to ensure drivers stop before crossing.
Councilman Joe DiLetto urged city police to enforce jaywalking laws.
“In examining the crosswalks, I have witnessed people almost getting hit while jaywalking,” said DiLetto. “We need to do something and we need to enforce this, and make people go to the crosswalks.”
City Attorney Jim Carter noted the most responsibility lies with drivers.
“Georgia law says it is the duty of a driver to be aware of and to avoid people in the road wherever they are,” said Carter.
Officials supported educational campaigns to raise awareness about pedestrian safety, but noted Madison received many “passing-through” drivers from out of town.
“We can educate about half the people but the other half is coming through from outside of Madison,” said Nunn. “Everybody has to be careful and watch what you are doing…When I see there has been an accident involving a pedestrian, my heart sinks,” said Nunn. “We have had an awful lot of close calls and some actual accidents like that in the past. “This is an issue we need to get rededicated on.”
Blanton proposed a pedestrian safety campaign to be included in the high school’s Driver’s Ed. Program.