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City seeks grant to improve pedestrian safety on Fifth Street
Fifth Street
Some students and staff members are clamoring for the city to add pedestrian safety crossings to this section of Fifth Street adjacent to Ceres High School - photo by Contributed to the Courier

An effort has been underway since March 2017 to get the city of Ceres to improve the pedestrian safety of Ceres High School students on Fifth Street adjacent to the campus. The effort, which has included submittal of a petition, has resulted in the city considering action.

The city is applying for grant funds to pay for improvements on Fifth Street adjacent to Ceres High School to improve pedestrian safety before and after the school day.

A group of Ceres High School students has been appealing to the city to install a crosswalk on the east side of the campus. Despite City Manager Toby Wells' skepticism that a crosswalk will solve problems caused by unsafe student pedestrian moves, the city could be installing improvements in the future.

"They think a simple crosswalk will solve the problem," said Wells. "If there's going to be a crossing, it needs to be more than a simple crosswalk."

Wells said any treatment should include clearing out parking for visibility purposes and adding a street bulb to narrow the crossing distance in an attempt to slow traffic. In-ground flashing lights would also help, said Wells. However, any crossings are restricted by driveway locations on the east side of the Fifth Street.

City staff has observed pedestrian movements on Fifth Street after the bell rings at the end of the school day. Wells said his observation notes there are "150 students crossing the street at 150 locations."

"No matter where you put a crosswalk, you're going to have 150 students crossing the street at 150 locations unless you have a bunch of people out there - i.e., school district employees or somebody - shepherding those students to the location where they're supposed to cross, which they can do without a crosswalk," said Wells. "Again, my opinion, I don't think a crosswalk is going to change that behavior. It might concentrate some of them to the right location."

To accomplish the goal, said Wells, the city is considering applying for a Safe Route to Schools grant and has included the project in the city's Alternative Transportation Program Planning Grant which looks at all pedestrian safety concerns.

"We're not ignoring it. It's in the same process that every school concern, when they come up, they get prioritized and put on a list and we seek grant funding for it," said Wells.

Wells said traffic safety trends are resulting in "a lot of folks who are not only distracted driving are distracted walking. Everyone's looking at their phones and you see a lot of trends nationwide where the pedestrians being hit by cars is skyrocketing."
The speed limit on Fifth Street is 25 mph because of the residential zone.