Whether it’s faded paint, lack of time to cross successfully, or speeding cars that come too close, Palm Springs has plenty of issues with pedestrian crossings. But a 182-page report, compiled with input from dozens of residents during the past year, may have the answers for problems at some of the city’s most problematic intersections.
The report was presented to members of the city’s Sustainability Commission for initial review Tuesday evening. It outlines dozens of crossings and road sections that need improvement in the city. None of them should come as a surprise to residents who regularly walk or ride bicycles here.
The intersection of Ramon Road and Sunrise Way is one example. It’s a major junction in the city’s center used by residents of all ages to get to schools, parks, grocery stores, the library, the senior center, and the Boys & Girls Club. Between 2016 and 2020, data shows pedestrian collisions resulted in one fatality and one severe injury at the intersection. Anecdotally, those who cross there will tell you close calls between vehicles and pedestrians are far too familiar.
“Ever since the very beginning, that’s one of the most passionate projects we’ve heard about,” said Jenny Yu, a senior associate planner with KOA Corporation, which worked with the city and public in preparing the report and stack-ranking the most problematic intersections.
Ramon Road was listed as the one corridor with the most pedestrian-involved collisions, with 15 in the four years studied in the report, including two fatalities. A combined 139 pedestrian-involved collisions were reported on city streets during the period, resulting in 10 deaths. Vehicles striking pedestrians — who were both in and out of crosswalks as they tried to cross roads — comprised 66% of the incidents.
Of the 139 pedestrian-involved collisions, 38% involved a pedestrian violation, including walking outside crosswalks, crossing mid-block, and not following the pedestrian signal.
Regardless of fault, KOA recommended the city undertake 37 projects to combat the issues, the majority of them in District 3. They include:
- Additional sidewalks;
- Roadway reconfigurations (also known as road diets) that would reduce the number of lanes to accommodate other roadway users better;
- High-visibility crosswalks that are easier seen by motorists and mid-block crosswalks where pedestrians typically cross illegally;
- User-activated flashing beacons;
- Curb extensions (also known as bulb-outs) designed to decrease the crossing distance at intersections; and
- Signal strategies such as allowing pedestrians time in the intersection before lights turn green for vehicles.
The two-mile stretch of Tahquitz Canyon Way between Museum and Farrell drives was listed as the worst section of road in the city for pedestrians. To fix its issues, KOA recommended allowing pedestrians to enter the roadway well before vehicles are allowed to make turns, and providing green arrows for left-turning vehicles while stopping both oncoming traffic and pedestrian crossings.
The best news for residents is that funding should be available for many suggested improvements, thanks to state grants.
“There’s going to be large amounts of grant money made available by California,” KOA Senior Transportation Planner Clyde Prem said. “We’ve identified projects that you can use to get that grant funding.”