FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne trail system covers all four corners of the city. People and pets enjoy a variety of activities on the trail including walking, running, skating, and biking. Many trail users fear for their safety at the Pufferbelly Trail crossing on Carroll Road. Officials say the confusion of the crosswalk led to a woman’s death September 2021.
On the pedestrian trail, a stop sign is located just before Carroll Road telling users to stop. Underneath that, a large yellow sign says, “cross traffic does not stop,” informing pedestrians. A flashing red light is triggered once trail users are close to the cross walk for the pedestrians and the same light flashes yellow for the drivers.
Kara Bratton walks and her husband skates the Pufferbelly trail five or six times a week. She thinks the crosswalk is “horrible.”
“There’s so much confusion about who’s supposed to stop and what they’re supposed to do,” Bratton explains. “Different intersections around the city there’s different rules for traffic and different rules for pedestrians so I think there’s a lot of confusions but it makes it very unsafe,” she says.
Bratton says people stop almost every time she attempts to cross the road if there is traffic. She says she waves the cars on. Sometimes she completely turns her back to the vehicles so they will keep going.
Cindy Curtland enjoys the trail with her husband and dog weekly. Despite using the trail often, confusion for her remains.
“Some drivers are polite and do stop, but the ones behind them don’t pay attention, I think the city needs to make it safer, there are kids that use this trail. Is it going to take more people to die or get hurt? It’s just scary,” Curtland says.
Ann Godsey loves the trails and also is a weekly trail user, however the Pufferbelly trail she avoids because of the danger that comes with crossing Carroll Road. She experienced a driver not following the rules.
“When we did cross a van was stopped because they saw people, which you are not supposed to do. You are supposed to drive on through. The pedestrians will wait until it is clear. It becomes a danger when people stop and other cars stop behind them or get upset,” Godsey explains.
James Holm is the community engagement manager with Fort Wayne Trails Inc. He had the idea to make public service announcements about the trail crossing on Carroll Road with the hopes of clearing up confusion. Those announcements aired multiple times on WANE 15 and other media outlets.
“If everyone uses them as they are designed, they are very safe intersections. Use common sense, follow the signs that are there. If you’re a trail user always stop at stop signs and if you’re a driver use caution,” Holm says.
As for a solution, trail users believe something should be done. Bratton knows about the PSA’s that Fort Wayne Trails has put out to help people understand the crosswalk.
“I don’t know how effective that’s been, especially since the accident last fall. I don’t know if consistency at different crosswalks would be helpful,” Bratton explains.
Godsey says that users need to do their homework and pay attention to what the rules are and try to follow them.
Tune in to WANE 15’s news at 6 on Wednesday as Rex Smith uncovers more on this 15 Finds Out investigation.