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Column: Pedestrian safety important to city

After such a stretch of pleasant weather, this week has been a sharp reminder of what's in store for the next few months. Many of us may start keeping our exposure to the elements to a minimum. But there are always a lot of hardy folks in Rosemount who embrace the outdoors, including the beneficial effects of walking and jogging on our sidewalks and trails. The challenge for the city year-round is to keep them safe as they share the road with vehicles.

And for that, we're trying something new this fall. Crews next month will install new signs at three crosswalks in Rosemount. Pedestrians who want to cross the street can press a button that will activate flashing yellow LED lights that are embedded in the crosswalk sign.

The intent is to grab drivers' attention, as a reminder that traffic laws require them to yield to pedestrians at crossings. Research shows that drivers tend to pay attention to crosswalks only when they see pedestrians about to cross. Flashing lights will let motorists know that pedestrians are present.

The pedestrian-activated LED signs will be located on Shannon Parkway at Evermoor Parkway, on Shannon at Daffodil Path and on Connemara Trail at the east entrance to Connemara Park.

Pedestrians must remember that signs alone do not ensure their safety. Even though they have the right of way, they still need to be cautious about vehicles that are approaching. But the new signals may help, and if there's proof that they are effective, the city may consider them for other neighborhoods.

Wherever you walk in Rosemount, the usual tips for pedestrian safety still apply. Don't step into a crosswalk until traffic stops in all directions and you have made eye contact with the drivers. Don't begin crossing if the "Don't Walk" signal has begun to flash. Wear reflective clothing when it's dark or beginning to get that way and always walk against the flow of traffic.

Don't automatically assume that drivers see you. I'm sure we've all had moments behind the wheel when we suddenly see a pedestrian or bicyclist and wonder where they came from.

As for the duties of motorists, remember that you have to yield to pedestrians at all intersections, even if the crosswalks are not marked. Pay particular attention at bus stops and near schools; follow the directions of crossing guards. Give children and older pedestrians extra time to clear out of the path of traffic.

And one last request: give the city crews who are working for you a break. Stay back from plows. Clear the way by observing the parking restrictions that resume on Monday, Nov. 1. Our crews have 30 miles of trails and 258 lane-miles of roads to clear this winter. We want you and them to stay safe - and to enjoy the season.