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Experts must investigate fatalities at intersection

In the past two months, two women have been hit and killed by cars while crossing Niagara Falls Boulevard where it tees with Willow Ridge Road. The women were reportedly crossing in the predawn hours and dressed in dark clothing. While these conditions make crossing dangerous, anyone who has ever tried to cross the boulevard there knows very well that it is not an easy-to-navigate intersection at almost any time.

High-speed traffic flows north and south on the boulevard and when the traffic light stops it, the stream of cars emerging from the Willow Ridge community are allowed to turn both north and south onto the boulevard. Although there is a button that allows pedestrians to request a signal change, once it occurs, they have virtually no chance to cross since they can be blocked by cars turning in both directions. Often they must move very quickly to do so when an opening arises.

This intersection, like many others along this corridor, is not pedestrian-friendly. They call to mind the old term, “the quick and the dead” – pedestrians had better be quick, or they may soon be dead. Being forced to cross under these difficult conditions probably contributed, to some extent, to the women’s deaths.

When two women are killed within a short period of time and under very similar circumstances at one intersection, I believe it is time for an expert investigation of the conditions under which pedestrians must cross. More broadly, expert attention should be directed toward increasing pedestrian safety all along that heavily traveled suburban corridor where pedestrian traffic is universally given short shrift.

Frank J. Dinan

Tonawanda