New Proposal to Make Memphis Streets Safer for Pedestrians

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(Memphis) It’s a call for action after four people were hit while crossing Memphis streets in three accidents over the weekend.

Two of the victims died.

Its more evidence, for one Memphis city councilman, that something needs to be done to make the streets safer for those walking or riding a bike.

Crossing seven lanes of traffic without the help of a crosswalk can be extremely dangerous.

Take for example the two people hit by a car on Getwell road late Saturday night.

Police say they were jaywalking.

One of them was killed.

“That's bad,” said Musa Maree, who business nearby. “That's really bad. I hope somebody can do something.”

Someone is trying to do something; Councilman Lee Harris.

He's proposing a new ordinance that would make Memphis safer for those on foot.

“We've got some work to do,” he said. “According to some groups we are one of the worst cities in America for pedestrian, cyclists, and motorists’ traffic. At the end of the day, we've got a lot of folks sharing the road and it’s going to increase over time.”

A new city ordinance requires drivers to stop if someone is using the cross walk, but Harris says, many people still don't use them.

The new ordinance would increase the jaywalking fine from $5.00 to $40.00.

“[We want] to make sure people get the signal that, ‘hey, jaywalking is a bad practice’ and puts you in danger and it also puts motorists in danger because they have to make sudden movements and so forth to avoid pedestrians,” said Harris.

News Channel 3 watched as Musa Maree dodged traffic, crossing the street near where those two pedestrians were hit.

“There is no other way to do it,” he said. “I have to do it like six times a day. I am back and forth.”

While Councilman Harris hopes to ultimately add more stop lights and sidewalks, Maree just wants more crosswalks, especially on busy streets like Getwell.

“I hope, of course, because everyone is important,” he said. “We don't want anyone to get hurt.”

This proposed ordinance contains about 12 different ways to make Memphis streets safer, from bicyclists following traffic laws to fines for people walking in the streets when a sidewalk is available.

The proposal goes before the council in two weeks.

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