FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After a second car versus pedestrian accident at a Pufferbelly Trail Crossing in less than a year, those who oversee the trails want to remind people how important it is to know and follow the rules for mid-block crossings.

“When the trail crossings are used properly, they are safe,” Megan McClellan said.

McClellan is the Executive Director of Fort Wayne Trails Inc.

The group advocates for safe trail usage. They’ve put out PSAs about how to safely use trail crossings and hold “Trek The Trails” rides on Tuesday nights during which people are taught how to properly navigate trails.

McClellan and the City of Fort Wayne’s Greenways and Trails Manager, Dawn Ritchie, both want people to remember and follow the rules for mid-block crossings.

  • Motorists on the road always have the right of way
  • Trail users should always come to a complete stop and look both ways
  • Drivers should slow down, but never stop unless there is someone already crossing on the crosswalk

Drivers who stop and wave on crossers run the risk of getting rear-ended or having a car try to pass them. Stopping doesn’t guarantee that oncoming traffic in the other direction will do the same.

Ritchie said drivers who try to stop and let someone cross put trail users in a dangerous situation that they can’t win. In the same sense, the trail users need to follow the signs and never cross until it’s safe to do so.

“You’re [trail users are] putting your life in your own hands by ignoring these traffic signals, so it is very, very critical – very critical – to stop at stop signs,” Ritchie said.

As WANE 15 reported in May, video studies were conducted over the summer to look at different mid-block crossings and how both drivers and pedestrians treat them.

Starting next week, a class of engineering students at Trine University will be analyzing the video and offering feedback and ideas to the working group that conducted the study.

The group includes city and county officials and Fort Wayne Trails.

Since Fort Wayne Trails is not a governing body, they’ll be using the info from the study to better target who they can offer education on the trails and crossings to.

Ritchie said that while the current crossings are what is recommended by national traffic engineers, they’re open to making changes to certain crossings if the data calls for it.

“Our goal, of course, is to improve safety for everyone,” Ritchie said. “So, yes. We are open to making some changes, but we may also find out through this study that what we’ve created  at each of these mid-block crossings is appropriate. Again, we always have and always will follow national engineering guidelines.”