Woman hit and killed prompts calls for changes to trail crosswalks

15 Finds Out

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A day after a woman died when a vehicle hit her along the Pufferbelly Trail, many are voicing their concerns over the design of certain mid-block intersections where a trail crosses a heavily commuted roadway.

All day WANE 15 received social media comments and emails from the community seeking clarity at a confusing pedestrian walkway.

“These lights need to be taken down and taken down as quickly as possible,” said Brad Davis, a resident in Allen County. “It’s the motion censored yellow flashing lights that are confusing drivers in the area. When you confuse drivers one driver does one thing and another driver does the other, then you have a problem.”

Davis added that he is heartbroken over the “tragic death” of 63-year-old Lesia Patrick. He wrote a letter to Fort Wayne City Council and Allen County Commissioners to change the signal.

Laura McCoy, is a driver’s education instructor and has taught students for 42 years. She told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that when she is out driving with students, she notices the confusion among drivers.

“On the trail they have stop signs and [pedestrians] are suppose to stop until the road is clear,” McCoy said. “I see people trying to be nice and encourage them to come across let them come across into traffic, and then sometimes the traffic on the other side doesn’t stop because it’s not a red light.”

McCoy said what happened to Patrick was “terrible,” and the community needs to learn more about Indiana’s code of law.

“Yellow always means yellow. If they wanted it to be a stop, it would be a red blinking light,” McCoy said. “I think the problem is that people aren’t used to these. They have only been in Fort Wayne for a year or two.”

The crossing where Patrick was killed is outside of Fort Wayne City limits. WANE 15 reached out to County Commissioner Nelson Peters sent this statement:

We were saddened to learn that the tragedy that occurred on the Pufferbelly Trail last night involved a long-term county employee, and our hearts and prayers go out to the family during this time.  As we do with any fatality on our Allen County road system, we will be looking into the circumstances regarding this matter.  And in the meantime, we note that there have been numerous serious automobile-related accidents on the roads of greater Fort Wayne and Allen County recently, and we urge people to slow down and be cautious, particularly in areas where pedestrians are expected and likely to be.

Commissioner Nelson Peters

Friday morning, WANE 15 noticed multiple instances where drivers slowed down at the intersection and attempted to yield to pedestrians and cyclists who were stopped at mid-block crossings. This was seen at both the crossings on the Pufferbelly Trail near Wallen and Carroll Roads.

In Aug. 2020, Fort Wayne Trails published a video meant to educate drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on how to approach mid-block crossings.

According to the video, pedestrians and bicyclists need to stop before going across a mid-block crossing. Stop signs are also posted at each end of the intersection as a reminder. As long as both sides of the roadway are clear, they can cross.

Meanwhile, drivers must yield to pedestrians and cyclists if they are already in the roadway. However, if a pedestrian or cyclist is stopped at one end of the crossing, the driver has the right-of-way to proceed and should not yield to pedestrians.

Despite these guidelines, there are many instances where commuters, bicyclists and cyclers who are confused on who has the right-of-way at these intersections.

WANE 15 has also attempted to reach out to Fort Wayne Trails for comment regarding confusion from drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, but has not heard back at this time.

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