Proposal for crosswalks goes beyond safety


A proposal to make improvements to intersections in downtown Seymour should hit the right note with pedestrians and cyclists.

Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street, said her idea involves painting crosswalks in the historic downtown district in a way that not only improves how they look but makes them safer.

By painting a design on the outside of the intersections, nearest the sidewalks, vehicles will have to make wider turns, putting those walking or on bicycles at less risk of getting hit.

“It is not only an aesthetic purpose. The crosswalks being painted and decorated will also help to make biking and walking downtown safer,” she said.

The painted crosswalks will be more visible and likely will get used more by pedestrians; motorists should notice them more too and stop behind them, Schepman added.

“All of this combined helps with safety issues as the downtown is seeing more pedestrian traffic,” she said.

Schepman recently shared the concept with the city’s board of public works and safety, and received tentative approval.

Board member Jim Rebber said he wanted to see the final design before it was painted. He didn’t agree with installing guard poles at each side of the intersections.

“I’m afraid someone would turn and hit those and then the city would be held responsible,” he said.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said the design doesn’t take away much lane width from motorists but creates more of an “island,” to keep pedestrians safe.

“I don’t think the poles scare me as much,” he said. “I’ve seen bigger columns in different places.”

Schepman said other communities have taken similar steps to make their downtown areas more appealing.

“It is a great way to make downtown Seymour more of a destination for people to visit, and it sets apart the historic downtown from the rest of the city,” she said.

While some communities have painted polka dots or other designs, Schepman said she would like to use a music theme with notes and guitars.

“We are trying to brand the downtown and promote and attract more live music here,” she said.

The proposal also goes along with Seymour Main Street’s 5-year plan to better integrate design themes in the downtown, she added.

Schepman has reached out to city Councilman Matt Nicholson, who is an avid cyclist, to help identify which intersections would be the most appropriate to paint and would benefit the most from the project.

As a member of the Healthy Jackson County initiative, Schepman said she plans to apply for a grant through that group to pay for the paint, supplies and labor to complete the project because it supports walking and cycling.

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