Salt Lake City community group demands more measures to protect pedestrians

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SALT LAKE CITY — The community-based group Sweet Streets demanded Utah leaders take action to slow and prevent the number of injured and killed pedestrians.

Over the holidays, six pedestrians were hit by cars, with one person dying, according to Sweet Streets board member Levi Thatcher.

On average, there are 39 deadly auto-pedestrian crashes annually, according to a recent report on KSLTV.com.

Thatcher said those incidents alone show that changes are needed to protect pedestrians.

“Already this year, we have had a number of traffic violence incidents, crashes already, where people have been hurt in the streets, involving children, teenagers,” Thatcher said. “We are really quite fed up and excited to see the city take action.”

Thatcher said that action has to begin with funding.

“The city needs an ongoing funding source to improve the street that’s not established yet. We call on the mayor and the (city) council to establish that funding source,” he said.

Thatcher said the next step is physical changes.

“We need to stop blaming pedestrians, or even blaming drivers, and design the streets to be safer,” he said. “(The Utah Department of Transportation) can lengthen the crossing times; they can make it so that pedestrians have a head start; they can make right turns on red illegally so you have to wait for green for the cars to turn and cross through that intersection through that crosswalk.”

He also said drivers need to be safer and more responsible.

“Put away your phones, follow the speed limit. You know, people are dying, and really, these drivers should be held accountable,” he said. “We are killing our fellow Utahns here and it’s tragic.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a statement on the Tuesday night issue:

“The recent auto-pedestrian accidents in our city are heartbreaking. Everyone should feel safe when traveling in our city, whether they are walking, pedaling or driving. Traffic violence underscores the need for urgent, deliberate action to make our streets safer, which is why I’m proud of our decision to join the Vision Zero Network last week and we’ll be working to implement additional safety measures citywide soon.”

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