Letter to the Editor

Unsafe in the streets?

Friday, November 5, 2021

Recently I spoke at a Storm Lake City Council meeting on the subject of pedestrian safety. This is a major issue that needs to be properly addressed to ensure the well-being and safety of our residents and visitors. Currently a proposed plan to remove traffic lights is already causing dangerous conditions.

I love living in Storm Lake where I have usually been safe, however, there have been several incidents lately when I experienced a sense of danger. Typically traveling by bicycle or on foot, I often cross Lake Avenue at 7th Street where traffic lights have recently been covered and put out of order. That has caused an extremely hazardous situation for me and other pedestrians and bikers at that location. I am especially concerned about high school students and patrons of the various area businesses including a large store that recently opened on the former North School site. I talked to several people who are unaware that the lack of stoplights may become a permanent problem. It is exasperated by the reality that there are many intersections on North Lake Avenue that are challenging for bikers or pedestrians, and with the 7th and Lake traffic lights removed, there would be a five block stretch without safe crossings available for non-motorized travelers.

People in Storm Lake shouldn’t be scared when attempting to rush across a busy intersection without being injured. Last month, while visiting another city, I felt less frightened when at about 2 a.m. I was startled by loud, inebriated people who were screaming, yelling and fighting in a lower level of a parking ramp I had entered. Gunshots were fired at another nearby ramp. It was easier to evade trouble there than it is to escape close personal contact with cars in my own community on a regular basis.

But the numbers generated by a city traffic study do not consider the safety of people who are not occupying motorized vehicles to be as important as that of drivers. We all know who would not fare as well during any possible collisions.

The City of Storm Lake should reconsider plans to remove the traffic lights at 7th and Lake. Let’s not utilize statistics that treat bicyclists and pedestrians as pawns in a game of jeopardy. Traveling around town should not be considered risky behavior.