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2005 Media Releases

October 11, 2005
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Charlotte Burke, Lincoln-Lancaster Co. Health Dept., 441-8011

Countdown Crosswalk Signals Installed At Busy Intersection
Expert on “walkable” communities in Lincoln for announcement

Mayor Coleen J. Seng today unveiled the new countdown crosswalk signals installed recently at the intersection of Holdrege and North 27th streets. The signal has a countdown timer that shows pedestrians how many seconds they have to cross the street before the signal changes to “don’t walk.”

“These countdown signals will improve safety for pedestrians,” said Mayor Seng. “This is an extremely busy intersection, with 51,000 vehicles using it every day. With Clinton Elementary, CEDARS Northbridge, the People’s Health Center and the Salvation Army all located near this intersection, we also have many children who cross those busy streets. Unfortunately, we’ve had a number of accidents there involving pedestrians and bicycles. This new type of signal is one step we can take toward making our community more pedestrian friendly.”

In the past five years, North 27th and Holdrege has been the site of 34 pedestrian/vehicle crashes. Fifteen (44 percent) of those involved children age 14 and under; six involved people ages 15 through 29; eight involved people ages 30 through 45; and five involved people over age 45.

The eight countdown signals at Holdrege and North 27th Street cost about $250 each. The signals also will be installed at pedestrian-activated crosswalks near four elementary schools. The City has previously installed pedestrian countdown signals at 12 intersections. The new signals are funded through a Federal Preventive Health and Human Services Block Grant awarded through the Nebraska Health and Human Services System’s Cardiovascular Health Program to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. The City Public Works and Utilities Department installed the signals.

“Studies in 2004 showed that 15 percent of all Lancaster County residents and 23.8 percent of our high school students surveyed do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity,” said Mayor Seng. “This signal project highlights the importance of federal, state and local governments working together to make walking and biking safer and more convenient for citizens of all ages.”

Mayor Seng said the need for these types of improvements is outlined in the City-County Transportation Plan. In particular, the plan’s objectives for pedestrians, bicycles and trails calls for improving school crossings.

Also attending the signal unveiling was pedestrian advocate Mark Fenton, the host of “America’s Walking” on PBS and former editor of “Walking” magazine. Fenton is a nationally recognized authority on public health issues related to physical activity and the need for community, environmental, and public policy initiatives to support physical activity.

“These timers are a great safety measure, and they show that pedestrians aren’t an afterthought,” said Fenton. “I’m pleased that your plan shows more of these measures to be installed in the City. The timers not only reduce the likelihood of pedestrian injuries and collisions but encourage people to get out and enjoy the health benefits of daily walking.”

While in Lincoln, Fenton is working with the School Health Advisory Committee of five Lincoln middle schools; meeting with a subcommittee of the Board of Health and Planning Commission that is working on using land use planning to improve physical activity; and making presentations to several other local organizations.

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