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Pedestrian Safety is Priority of Bellevue Task Force

A task force created to provide recommendations for the City of Bellevue to improve pedestrian safety submitted its first report to city council this month.

In summary, the task force wants the city to address sidewalk improvements, pedestrian design guidelines, play streets/alleys, enforcement of pedestrian safety laws, improve crosswalks and crosswalk markings, innovative design techniques - including bump outs, bicycle infrastructure, and on-street parking adjustments, and to work with TANK and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to ensure the availability of multi-modal transportation programs and infrastructure.

The task force, made up of government officials and residents, met five times in April to create its priority list.

Bellevue approved the temporary task force, ahead of a likely creation of a more permanent one, in March. Pedestrian safety has been a growing concern in the city, particularly on highly trafficked Fairfield Avenue (colloquially known as the Avenue), and the task force's creation follows a series of pedestrian injuries in Cincinnati.

"There is poor visibility between pedestrians and vehicles even with a marked crosswalk," said city councilman Sean Fisher, a member of the task force. "A lot of the recommendations in the report (address) different ways we might be able to decrease the distance at which point pedestrians may have to cross."

That could include better sight-lines by reducing the area where cars can park on the street (with a specific suggestion of requiring at least a two-car length from an intersection), or even bump outs, which would place a pedestrian further into the street on a piece of sidewalk, shortening the distance in which a pedestrian would be on the road.

"People who live in Bellevue, I think they're pretty good at stopping, but when you're driving down the Avenue, you can't see pedestrians unless they are sticking their heads out," said councilman Pat Hogan, who also served on the task force. "Studies have found that bump outs are safer."

Councilman Ryan Salzman, who also served on the task force, said that more crosswalks in the city that are faded would likely be painted to be more prominent and noticeable. 

Police Chief Lee Estep said the process was "very, very educational." "I learned a lot and hope I was able to help everyone learn a bit about how the police department can help with this," Estep said. The chief also complimented the high turnout at meetings. "It's awful hard to get a consistent number of people to commit to something of this scale for that many consecutive weeks. It shows how committed the city and citizens of Bellevue are to the safety of this community."

Other recommendations noted for testing include an extension of the Southbank Shuttle, the TANK-operated trolley bus that travels in a circle, in both directions, between Covington, Newport, Bellevue, and Cincinnati. The task force would like to see the shuttle extend further into Bellevue as a means of reducing the number of cars on the road. Currently, shuttle riders must be picked up at Port of Bellevue, and the task force noted that it found that more residents would use it if access were better. 

The slip ramp from Donnerymeyer Drive to Berry Avenue would also be closed per a recommendation on Friday nights when Bellevue High School has a football game or a similar school event is happening on Tiger Lane. "This intersection is one of the worst for pedestrians, particularly when school events are happening," the report read. Pedestrian safety would be increased by a four-way stop to turn right, the task force noted, adding that the recommendation was "relatively low" on the public's priority list.

Other recommendations need further research, the task force concluded, including bicycle infrastructure, mid-block crosswalks, and bus infrastructure. 

Other policy considerations noted by the task force include a stop sign at Riviera Drive and Landmark Drive, more pedestrian awareness and education, a turn lane at Bellevue Vets, and more play-streets and alleys.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher