Kids crossing street

Oregon School District kids cross the street at the corner of Janesville Street and South Perry Parkway in December 2018.

Two incidents at two separate crosswalks where pedestrians were almost struck by vehicles on increasingly busy South Perry Parkway are gaining the attention of local law enforcement and government officials.

Public works director Jeff Rau addressed concerns brought up by resident Cindy Matulle at the Monday, Oct. 14 Oregon Village Board meeting, which was dedicated to the village budget. The board was not able to discuss it, as it was not on the agenda, but officials said it would be a topic of the Monday, Oct. 21 meeting.

“It’s definitely on our radar and we are looking at it,” Rau told Matulle.

Matulle told trustees she “had a front row seat” to one of the incidents, involving a student, on Thursday, Oct. 10, at Janesville Street. She said she had been picking up another student from school for a friend when she saw it happen.

“The person who was driving – she did not stop,” Matulle told the board. “She slid more than halfway through the intersection and stopped just before hitting them.”

An Oregon Police Department Facebook post last week addressed that incident and one other, involving a crossing guard, on the morning of Friday, Oct. 11, at South Burr Oak Avenue. It warned drivers to slow down and pay attention to pedestrians on the crosswalk and crossing guards.

The post inspired a discussion in the comments section.

“The (South Perry Parkway) and Janesville Street intersection is an absolute nightmare in the morning and after school and work,” one commenter, identified as Jamie Rogers, wrote. “We have lived on South Perry Parkway for over 10 years and have seen too many ‘near misses.’”

Another commenter, identified as Erin Hinze, said when she turns at South Perry Parkway, there’s always someone honking at her because she is “forcing them to slow down.”

Rau told the Observer in a Monday, Oct. 14, email the village has been watching the intersections.

“We’ve been aware of some of the problems experienced (there),” he said.

Two years ago, Rau said the village invested in the installation of rectangular rapid flashing beacons, which are push-button activated amber lights that flash when a pedestrian activates them.

“We’ve seen very good success with these at this location and others,” Rau said. “I have personally witnessed their effectiveness on numerous occasions both at this intersection and at the other four locations in the village.”

However, Rau said they are not “100% effective” as they rely on traffic yielding to the pedestrians on the crosswalk.

“Unfortunately, people don’t seem to understand that it is a state law requiring cars to stop when pedestrians are in the crosswalk,” Rau said. “I do believe when the intersection gets busier, the effectiveness of the RRFB diminishes.”

In addition, the village added a pedestrian warning sign in the middle of the roadway at the South Perry Parkway crosswalk last year, Rau said. OPD and Oregon School District also change the location of the crossing guard from the Elm and Janesville Street intersection to the South Perry Parkway and Janesville Street one.

Rau said there are several factors still creating problems at the intersections where the incidents occurred.

The road has gotten busier since the village connected the northern and southern portions of Perry Parkway last year.

“While this route provides a much more efficient route to the high school, it does add a significant amount of traffic,” Rau conceded. “Secondly, as Oregon grows, we just see more and more traffic on our roadways.”

Rau said he “anticipates good turnout” for next week’s Village Board discussion on the incidents. He’s also in communication with Dane County “to discuss possible options” that can create both “temporary and permanent” solutions to improve safety and efficacy for traffic and pedestrians.