TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - This time last year there were 22 fatal pedestrian accidents in Tucson. So far this year there have already been 25. The number of bike fatalities has gone up to from one at this time last year to two so far this year. All in all, most people say pedestrian and cyclist safety is a problem on Tucson’s streets. That’s why the Living Streets Alliance decided to take action with a project they’re doing downtown
“With this project we aren’t taking away any parking, we aren’t cutting off any access for cars, were just simply re-purposing abundant asphalt space and reusing it for people,” Living Street Alliances Kylie Walzak said.
Their plan is to turn the intersection at North Sixth Avenue and East Seventh Street into an area that’s more pedestrian/cyclist friendly by trying out a “tactical urbanism” project. The project includes painting the intersections bright colors, adding seating areas in unused parts of the intersection, adding flex posts, and adding planters.
The group also hopes the work will show how to take a lot of what they consider to be unused space and turn it something that’s both accessible and safe.
"I think what’s going to be really cool is when the project is done how we see people interacting with the space” Walzak said.
The project was motivated by pedestrian and cyclist safety but the catalyst that really got things going was the story of one man whose son had been hit by a car in the area. He came to businesses near the intersection and asked the business owners if any of them had surveillance cameras in the hopes of finding whomever hit his son while he was in the crosswalk. After that, the business owners reached out to Living Streets Alliance to see if anything could be done to make the area safer.
“I think because a lot of people walk in this area we had heard repeatedly from people ‘This intersection doesn’t feel safe to me, I’ve almost been hit. Cars don’t often see the stop signs here and blow through it.' So that was just the pinnacle,” Walzak said.
The tactical urbanism project is able to happen thanks in part to a grant by AARP, along with some financial help from the city of Tucson. But Living Streets Alliance counts on donations to help cover the cost of the supplies for the project, such as monetary donations and items like paints tins and rollers.