uFixIt: San Jose intersection dangerous for kids

San Jose intersection dangerous for kids
December 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A San Jose parent is worried that children walking to school in her neighborhood will get hurt dodging cars in a busy intersection. The problem is in the Seven Trees neighborhood in South San Jose, where there are five schools near the intersection of Senter Road and Ezie Street.

Neighborhood children try to navigate an anxious line of commuters every morning at the corner of Senter Road and Ezie Street in San Jose where there is no crosswalk.

"The cars aren't even stopping to let us cross the street and if they do, I feel like I have to run because they're not stopping," said Sophia Lopez a mother.

There isn't much there to separate cars and kids. We saw for ourselves how aggressive drivers use the neighborhood road as a fast cut-through to get to Capitol Expressway or the freeway and how students are forced to walk out close to the busy expressway. Some take their chances cutting between cars. Car after car after car blocked the way so kids can't get through. Many jaywalk farther down Ezie Street to avoid the intersection altogether.

"It's an issue to everyone that's here in this community," said Luis Carrilo, an Ezie Street neighbor.

Although there have been no pedestrian accidents there in the last decade, there were 17 car crashes and many near misses. Lopez says she and her young children have come close to being hit more than once.

"This is a huge problem. I'm just like fed up, fed up with it because I've been taking my son to school since he was in kindergarten and since then I've had to deal with this," said Lopez.

Some parents have given up.

"I know a parent that lives right just down the street and she drives her child to school when she could just cross the street," said Lopez.

After we heard from Lopez, we went to city hall.

"Ezie Street hasn't been so easy for pedestrians, right? And we've known that for a while," said San Jose Assistant City Manager Kip Harkness.

Harkness and Department of Transportation manager Lily Lim-Tsao say they are familiar with the problems in the area. They've installed safety measures there in the past such as a crossing guard one intersection up on busy Senter Road, speed monitors on occasion, and stop signs and crosswalks on other parts of Ezie Street, but nothing at Senter and Ezie.

"When things are quiet, we know all is well and when we start to get a call or two, 'Hey, it's time to re-look at has conditions changed?'" said Lim-Tsao.

After our call, more changes are coming to Ezie Street.

"It really has pointed out an issue. So we are, in response to what's come up, going to be installing a crosswalk there. We're going to be looking to see if it warrants a crossing guard there. We're going to be looking to do spot enforcement along the street, so people can learn the correct behaviors," said Harkness.

That means traffic tickets for speeders.

"We need people to be accountable for their action and taking pride in their community. So doing the right thing is really the primary message that we want to get out," said Lim-Tsao.

After our call, Harkness says he and city engineers walked the area themselves to see what was happening here and he's making Lopez an offer.

"If they would like to do a walk along with us, we're happy to go out. I'm happy to go out and walk to school with them and see those issues first-hand from their perspective. I'm always open to learning that way," said Harkness.

We'll make sure Lopez gets the message. And as for the timeline on that crosswalk? Four to six weeks.

We're also told the city will organize more safety education in those five neighborhood schools to teach kids how to deal with traffic and try and cut down on some of those risky moves we caught on camera.

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