For release March 9, 2023
Media contact: Albert Lea Public Safety Director JD Carlson at 507-377-5665 or [email protected]
Study: Pedestrians need to ‘push the button’ when crossing Bridge Avenue at Hawthorne
“Push the button to alert drivers” – that’s the advice for pedestrians crossing Bridge Avenue at Hawthorne Street, where they can activate a flashing beacon to signal vehicles to stop while they cross. The Albert Lea Police Department is issuing that advice based on a pedestrian-crossing and vehicle speed study of Bridge Avenue between Hawthorne and Sheridan streets in late 2022.
“No pedestrian crossing is ever 100 percent safe. People always need to use caution when crossing a street,” said J.D. Carlson, Albert Lea public safety director. “At this intersection, pedestrians should push the button and wait for traffic to stop before crossing the street.”
The study found that the crossing enhancements at Hawthorne are working, with most vehicles stopping for pedestrians waiting to cross Bridge Avenue, compared to Sheridan Street, where there are no crossing enhancements and few vehicles stop for pedestrians waiting to cross.
School District 241’s crossing guard at the Hawthorne intersection is a key safety feature, with 100 percent of vehicles stopping for pedestrians when the guard was present and the pedestrian button pushed during the study period.
The study also found that more pedestrians need to push the button outside of school days. Fewer vehicles stopped for pedestrians waiting to cross on weekends, likely because fewer walkers and bicyclists activated the flashing beacon.
As far as speeding, most drivers are sticking close to the speed limit of 30 mph. During the study, vehicles traveled an average speed of 32 mph on Bridge Avenue between Sheridan Street and Richway Drive. With an average traffic count of 8,000 vehicles a day and some drivers traveling more than 5 mph over the speed limit, the Albert Lea Police Department will continue its daily patrols of Bridge Avenue.
SRF Consulting Group conducted the study after reconstruction of Bridge Avenue resulted in:
- A 2-lane roadway with a shared left-turn lane in the center
- Replacement of the traffic signal at Hawthorne with a rapid-flashing beacon for pedestrian crossings
- Accessible sidewalks ramps installed at each corner of the Hawthorne intersection
Other key findings of the study
Hawthorne Street on weekdays:
- 100 percent of vehicles stopped for pedestrians crossing Hawthorne when the pedestrian button was activated and a crossing guard was present on school days. Albert Lea Area Schools assign a crossing guard at the intersection during arrival and departure times for Hawthorne Elementary School, which is 1.5 blocks east from the intersection.
- 95 percent of vehicles stopped for pedestrians when they used the flashing beacon without a crossing guard.
Hawthorne Street on a Saturday:
- 73 percent of vehicles stopped for pedestrians who pushed the button.
- None stopped for pedestrians who did not push the button and instead waited for a break in traffic.
- Based on observations, walkers and bicyclists are less likely to use the pedestrian button during non-school times, resulting in fewer vehicles stopping for pedestrians waiting to cross.
The above findings are based on 53 pedestrian crossings at Hawthorne Street on weekdays, with the majority occurring during school arrival and departure peak periods. The vast majority also occurred on the south side of the intersection where the flashing beacon is located. There were 27 crossings on a Saturday.
Sheridan Street on weekdays:
- No vehicles stopped for pedestrians waiting to cross Bridge Avenue at Sheridan Street, where there are no crossing enhancements.
Sheridan Street on a Saturday:
- 37 percent of vehicles stopped for pedestrians waiting to cross.
The above findings are based on 23 pedestrian crossings on weekdays and 19 on a Saturday.
- The study also examined vehicle speeds using radar detection:
- The average vehicle speed on Bridge Avenue was 32 mph on weekdays, a little over the 30-mph speed limit, for both Sheridan to Hawthorne and the Freeborn County Fairground entrance to Richway Drive. The average speed increased slightly on weekends to 32.4 mph and 33.9 mph respectively.
- The average vehicle speed decreased slightly to 30.3 during school arrival peak period and increased slightly to 32.3 mph during school departure peak periods.
- With some vehicles traveling more than 5 mph over the speed limit, the Albert Lea Police Department will continue its daily patrols of Bridge Avenue.
The Albert Lea Police Department mission is to enhance the quality of life in Albert Lea by providing excellent public safety services through leadership, integrity, and in collaborative partnerships with our community.
“Push the button to alert drivers” – that’s the advice for pedestrians crossing Bridge Avenue at Hawthorne Street, even during non-school hours, based on a recent study.
The Hawthorne Elementary crossing guard plays an important role in pedestrian safety before and after school. 100 percent of vehicles stop for pedestrians waiting to cross when the guard is present and the pedestrian button pushed.
Vehicles travel an average 32 mph – slightly over the speed limit – on Bridge Avenue in the Hawthorne Street area. With some vehicles traveling more than 5 mph over the speed limit, the Albert Lea Police Department will continue its daily patrols of Bridge Avenue.