Pedestrians feel significantly safer in Elm Square following a series of safety improvements made following the death of a five-year-old girl in May, according to survey results scheduled to released Wednesday by WalkBikeAndover.
Just seven percent of respondents reported “feeling unsafe” while walking in Elm Square, down from 71 percent prior to the changes, which included changing signals so all traffic stops when walk signs are lit and the addition of No Turn On Red restrictions. Drivers also feel safer, according to the online survey that was conducted between Sept. 15 and Oct. 6, with just seven percent of respondents saying they felt unsafe when driving in the intersection, down from 41 percent before the changes were implemented.
WalkBikeAndover, which advocates for green transportation and safety for pedestrians and cyclists on Andover’s streets, was one of the groups that pushed for safety improvements after Sidney Olson was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street with her family on May 9.
Additional, forthcoming “short-term” safety fixes include eliminating of parking spots to improve sight lines and relocating of crosswalks and stop signs. The changes were recommended in MassDOT’s safety study of the intersection after the fatal crash.
Drivers also reported driving through Elm Square less frequently, in part because of delays caused by the safety improvements.
“Despite the improvements, there are still significant safety and comfort concerns as reported by respondents for users on foot and bicycle,” the report’s executive summary said. “Safety around the channelized right turn (slip) lanes was the top issue for pedestrians, and lack of any formal bicycle infrastructure was the top concern among bicyclists. Concerns shared by motorists centered around additional delay traveling through the intersection, rather than safety.”
The intersection is a longstanding target for safety complaints. Olson’s parents said the walk light was lit when she was hit by a Sysco truck. The driver cooperated with investigators and no charges have been filed.