CONWAY, Ark. — In Conway, keeping pedestrians safe is at the top of the mind, especially near schools.
We reported an 18-year-old U of A student died after getting hit by a car on campus recently. The tragedy has given other campuses and cities like Conway the impetus to take a look at their own pedestrian practices.
“When accidents happen around the state, it reminds us to keep our foot on the gas pedal,” said Bobby Kelly, Conway’s communication director.
Over the years, the city has made strides in regards to creating safer routes to school, but improvement is still needed.
“It could be better,” said LaPortia Davis, a UCA student. “It's like cars come through super-fast through the crosswalks.”
The city continues the work to catch the attention of those fast, distracted drivers at mid-block crossings.
“They're one of the most dangerous places a pedestrian can be,” said Finley Vinson, Conway’s Director of Transportation.
Vinson showed us an RRFB, also known as a Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon, which can be found at some crossings in town.
"It flashes in a pulsating pattern and activated by a button,” said Vinson.
If you walk the streets of Conway and come across a mid-block crossing, chances are they don’t have signals.
The city's goal is to either eliminate those crossings or install the lighting feature.
“This device takes the yield rate at one of the mid-block crossings from somewhere in the single digits up to around 82 percent to 96 percent,” said Vincent. “The yield rate is how often a car will stop for a pedestrian.”
For avid walker like Davis, she hopes the signal lights are eye-opening to distracted drivers she spots at crosswalks.
"If you can avoid using your phone or something like that, that would be most helpful,” said Davis.
In 2018, the city installed seven lighting features at mid-block crossings, this year the goal is to install more near school campuses.
However, city officials said they are open to changing their approach if that means a safer one.