Build Pensacola: Safer streets for cars, pedestrians and cyclists

Everyone wants a safer neighborhood. More sidewalks. Smoother intersections. Safer spaces for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Here is how you can tell if a candidate is serious about it: Do they have a plan? Or is it just lip service?

I have a plan.

Langley Avenue at College Parkway

We have been looking at relatively little things that can be done to improve both the safety and aesthetics of some of our more troublesome intersections. One we have already debuted — Langley Avenue at College Parkway, at the Tryon Branch Library. Simple fixes to crosswalks, on-street parking, and even landscaping go a long way toward making this intersection safer both for cars, and for pedestrians.

 Bayou Boulevard at Ninth Avenue

Bayou Boulevard at Ninth Avenue

Or let's scale things up a bit. The corner of Ninth Avenue and Bayou Boulevard is one of the busiest in the city, with as many as seven lanes of traffic. Up to three turn lanes in any direction. High-traffic businesses on three corners. And basic crosswalks that simply do not do enough to protect pedestrians and ensure that drivers know to look out for them.

We can make this better. We can make this safer. Narrower lanes and additional trees will help slow motorists as they approach the intersection. Better-defined crosswalks change the way motorists see things — a contrasting color and design mean a dedicated place for pedestrians to walk, and not just people cross the street.

These are relatively small — but extremely important changes. They are things the city can bring to the table to improve the quality of life during our commutes, and to make our streets safer for pedestrians and motorists alike.

Summit Boulevard and Spanish Trail, south of Pensacola International Airport

Another example in an area that already is undergoing a bit of work: Summit Boulevard, along the south end of Pensacola International Airport. The new Fire Station 3 is on track. And we should improve the surrounding roadway as well.

What we currently have is a residential connector built more like an autobahn than a roadway on which we want our children to bike to a friend's house. Or on which we would walk our pets. Fewer lanes. More trees. Improved sidewalks, farther from the traffic.

This could just be the start. This could just be the beginning of improvements to many of our North Pensacola neighborhoods.

It takes leadership, planning and creativity. It takes the experience and knowledge of working with local and state agencies. And it takes mayor who knows what is needed to Build Pensacola and keep things moving forward.