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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 12:53 pm | Partly Cloudy 62º

 
 
 
 

New Pedestrian-Activated Lights on Milpas Street Fail to Perform for Walking Tour

Eastside Walks participants make unexpected discoveries in testing crossings at Yananoli and Ortega streets

About two dozen people simultaneously stopped and waited to cross a busy Milpas Street intersection in Santa Barbara on Tuesday morning. Several seconds later, they were still waiting for passing cars to respond to the blinking pedestrian-crossing lights.

Volunteers out for the very purpose of testing the new crossing signals at Yananoli and Ortega streets discovered that some of the pedestrian-activated lights weren’t flashing or even working at all.

Those taking part in Eastside Walks, a project of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST), also found that drivers had a hard time seeing the working lights against the morning sun.

Both discoveries only emphasized why the volunteers stay vigilant even after the City of Santa Barbara vowed and then made improvements to an area where drivers speed and pedestrians have little sidewalk space.

Eastside Walks has been working with the city to raise awareness for the two new pedestrian crossings along Milpas. Tuesday’s walk, which was planned partly to celebrate progress made at the intersections, was hosted in conjunction with the recent pedestrian stings put on by the Santa Barbara Police Department and traffic engineers.

“People were literally putting their life in your hands,” Sharon Byrne, executive director of the Milpas Community Association, said of the crossings.

On Tuesday, the malfunctioning pedestrian-activated light was found at Ortega and Milpas, the same intersection where 15-year-old Sergio Romero was killed while crossing Milpas in October 2011.

A city engineer on the walk called technicians to fix the apparent wiring issue.

Walkers, who included mothers pushing strollers, shared thoughts on the unsafe area, noting that they see a lot of people cross without activating the flashers.

“It’s pretty exciting when you get across and no one runs you over,” a passing pedestrian said after safely crossing Milpas Street at Yanonali.

Eva Inbar, a COAST board member, said she makes the walks at least once a week hoping for progress on the safety front.

The group, which has been involved in this effort since January 2011, might make the walks a monthly thing.

While Inbar agreed that the crossing signals are a much-needed improvement, she said she could think of a few other enhancements.

“This is a ridiculous sidewalk,” Inbar said of the curvy, thin concrete pathway along Milpas Street. “The street is too wide.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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