Risky Crossing: Medford weighs need for changes at Main and Bartlett streets

Medford weighs the need for a pedestrian warning signal at Main and Bartlett streets
Dana Harris crosses Main Street at Bartlett Avenue Wednesday in Medford. City officials say increased pedestrian traffic has made the intersection dangerous and recommend flashing lights to warn motorists.Julia Moore

An increase in pedestrians crossing Main Street at Bartlett has local residents concerned the intersection is an accident waiting to happen.

"Watching people cross here is terrifying," said Dana Harris, 19, who works at My Daughter's Closet on Main. "We've seen several near misses."

As Harris attempted to cross the street Tuesday afternoon, two cars failed to halt, which could have resulted in a citation if the police had seen it.

City Councilwoman Karen Blair said that with more students at Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University, the intersection is seeing a lot more foot traffic. And when The Commons opens to the north, it will increase the potential for an accident.

"There needs to be something at the intersection there to warn motorists that people are crossing," said Blair. "In the wintertime, it will be really critical."

Blair and other city leaders believe the time may have come to install flashing lights to warn motorists that pedestrians are entering the crosswalk. The lights would be similar to ones on Riverside Avenue that were installed after the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center brought more students downtown.

At a recent Medford Third Friday Art Walk, the intersection was crowded with pedestrians wending their way through a phalanx of cars.

"It looked like New York," Blair said.

She said there also is a problem with motorists not stopping for pedestrians at Eighth Street and Bartlett, but it is not as severe as at Main Street.

She thinks motorists likely are more aware of students milling about at the campus on Eighth, so they are more prepared to stop and tend to look more carefully before making a turn.

Blair said she's received complaints from merchants at the corner of Main and Bartlett who are concerned about the safety of pedestrians.

The Heart of Medford Association and members of a Medford traffic committee are studying the idea of placing flashing lights at the intersection. Medford police Sgt. Ben Lytle said the intersection has seen an increase in pedestrians in recent years.

"It's certainly a concern for us," he said.

On June 4, from noon to 2 p.m., Medford police conducted an operation that showed just how little some motorists pay attention to pedestrians.

In the two-hour period, 10 citations were issued for failing to stop while a pedestrian was in the crosswalk, one citation was handed out for a motorist passing a vehicle that was stopped for a pedestrian, and two warnings were issued for failure to stop for a pedestrian.

In addition, Medford police cited five motorists for using a mobile communication device, four for failure to use seat belts, one for not having a license and one for not properly restraining a child.

Lytle said the number of citations issued for failing to stop for pedestrians was higher than similar operations conducted at other intersections.

Some pedestrians said they would welcome flashing lights that would alert motorists.

"I think a light would be a great idea," said Eve Randolph, a 33-year-old Medford woman who works at RCC. "At lunch and after work, it is very difficult to cross."

After Randolph made her comments, a car turning left from the northbound lane of Bartlett onto Main failed to stop after Randolph was about a third of the way through the intersection.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.


Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK