Are kids safe on Richland streets? Parents express concerns

Half of a dozen community members went to the Richland City Council meeting to ask them for safer roads for pedestrians using the streets, crosswalks and intersections.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Parents, cyclists and community members alike addressed the Richland City Council. This followed after a Chief Joseph Middle Schooler was hit by a car while biking his way home. They were looking to get their streets safer.

The parallel roads of George Washington Way and Jadwin Ave., and all of the intersections along the way have been hazards for pedestrians, said Francesca Maier with Wheelhouse Community Bike Shop.

“Ten of those fatal and serious injury crashes occurred in central Richland and they’re all in walk zones to secondary schools,” Maier said.

The hazards have been especially prevalent for children. One community member spoke, saying it wasn’t even safe for adults at times.

“I’ve learned that it is not enough to follow the rules; that I am not safe unless I do additional things, like looking drivers in the eye to make sure they see me before I cross in front of them,” he said. “You know, little kids, they don’t get that. They need more protection than they’re getting.”

Half of a dozen parents in the community spoke up about the safety their children are lacking on Richland roads.

“I know other mothers who don’t feel safe bicycling to the library with their kids,” one woman said.

The City has made changes, such as integrating ‘leading pedestrian intervals,’ where pedestrians get a short head start before the lights turn green for cars.

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough last week,” said Maier.

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Last week, even with the ‘leading pedestrian intervals,’ Eli, a Chief Joseph Middle Schooler, was hit by a car on his way home. This was on George Washington Way and McMurray St.

Kids being able to get to and from school by themselves is beneficial, according to parents.

“Because it’s important for them to move around independently. It’s important for their autonomy and it’s important for their development,” said one parent.

The streets aren’t just unsafe for children, but for anyone using the crosswalks, intersections and sidewalks to travel.

“I really appreciate any attention you guys can pay to making the city more navigable by means other than just cars,” one speaker concluded with.

The City of Richland said it has a strategic planning seminar coming up soon, and this is an important issue the City is working on.