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New lights reduce risks to pedestrians

Santa Barbara Police are still writing tickets to drivers who blow through intersections with a pedestrian trying to cross, but they say two locations, with new lights, are much safer.

The improvements are on Milpas Street where it crosses Ortega and also at Yanonali.

Six motorcycle officers worked the area while a city employee, acting as a decoy, crossed the street several times. Most drivers yielded as required by law. But, even with flashing lights and new signs, some drivers went through, dangerously close to the pedestrians.

The Santa Barbara Supervising Transportation engineer, Derrick Bailey said he saw drivers, slowing down and stopping in the area where he has seen very risky driving habits in the past. Bailey has been part of many community meetings to find a solution to the safety issue.

While watching the city worker cross the street this morning, Bailey said, “he’s having a much easier time getting back and forth getting across the street than before the lights went in.”

Bailey said the flashing pedestrian lights were cheaper and quicker to install than a full overhead signal light.

Residents at the scene thanked the police for their enforcement. Some had complained months ago. “They were telling us how bad it was down here,” said Sgt. Mike McGrew. “They’re glad we’re doing an enforcement sting here but they also commented on how they are happy about the lights here at the crosswalk.”

Police also went to two other locations that did not have crosswalk lights.

Many more violators were there. One was at State Street and Calle Palo Colorado. One pedestrian, Paige Beloff said, “You don’t dare step out because people are going fast.”

She praised the police for cracking down and said there have been injuries at that location. “I have heard and when I have been in some of these places I’ve heard of people getting hit while I was there.”

By the end of the day 50 citations were issued. Nine on Milpas, 26 on upper State Street and 15 on Shoreline Drive.

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