Crosswalk safety: Phipps goes on TeeVee; Summers gulps the Kool Aid. Jeff Speck had the street grid answers, but Jeff Gahan urinated on them. Unwalkable New Albany — what a thrill!


When the somnolent finally awaken, it’s cause for acknowledgement, if not champagne toasts.

Maybe my 3rd district councilman Greg Phipps genuinely (albeit belatedly) grasps the way he’s been used and comprised, time and again, by both mayor and political party for the past six years. They laugh at Phipps, not with him, and even I find this to be sad. Once discarded, principles are hard to re-establish.

If the anesthesia-flavored Kool-Aid is wearing off, that’s progress, and proof of Phipps being “woke” will or will not be displayed in the months to come. Here’s a friendly hint, Greg.

Gahan’s rancid public housing putsch is an abominable moral and ethical failure, and your silence only abets it. Where is your Human Rights Commission when it’s needed the most?  

However, focusing on the topic at hand, maybe Phipps is beginning to see that without Jeff Speck’s principled approach to comprehensive street grid reform, two-way automotive friction alone cannot magically produce walkability — and the majority of bicycle-friendly design components never made it past Gahan’s ingrained cowardice.

Can you explain, Jeff Gillenwater?

“Greg Phipps and Larry Summers are both very aware that much more could have been done via this significant expenditure to protect against and start reversing auto-centric culture. It’s too bad both of them chose silence as a means of protecting their vaunted personal positions while a solid plan to do just that was being butchered by their boss. As lots of us have mentioned, two-way conversion as implemented is a bare bones step. Now we’ll have to spend years more and lots of additional money working toward eventually getting it right.”

In a nutshell, yes. Let’s look at WDRB’s coverage.

New Albany councilman concerned about safety at newly installed crosswalks, by Chris Sutter (WDRB)

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) — Pedestrians have the right of way, but apparently those lessons of driver’s education are a distant memory for several Hoosiers.

Pedestrian signs and lights were put up at several intersections in downtown New Albany during the two-way street conversions, but City Council Vice President Greg Phipps said few drivers seem to notice or care, blowing right through the intersections …

And a predictable response from the very same engineer who at one time told me that some form of traffic cones or flexible stakes were being actively considered for use at certain of these intersections. Looks like Larry’s been given a high-proof dose of Jeff Gahan’s intellectual acquiescence serum.

New Albany City Engineer Larry Summers thinks that could just cause more confusion.

“It’s more of an educational component that needs to occur than additional modifications that need to take place,” Summers said.

Summers added that the city will be posting Facebook videos to the city’s account and sending safety information with the sewer bill so that people are aware of what they need to do at each crossing.

Phipps should consider how different this might have played out had City Hall been willing to publicize HWC Engineering’s de-Specked plan before implementation. Collective eyes surely would have spotted this and other issues, but no, it had to be a secret — because secrecy is what Jeff Gahan is, and he knew all along he’d be gutting Speck’s recommendations.

Remember this in 2019, when the secret ballot will come in handier than brooms for the necessary sweeping. As an addendum, below is NAC’s post from December 12.

ASK THE BORED: Crosswalk safety and the silent CM? Hey, we’re delighted whenever someone repeats what we’ve been saying for weeks on end.

In other words, precisely what was written here on November 28 — and we thank the councilman for reading.

Grid Control, Vol. 30: These weird, useless “enhanced” crosswalk gizmos remind us that HWC’s and Deaf Gahan’s “complete roads” downtown are not “complete streets.”

This passage might have been written by HWC Engineering, hence the sad reality of the imperfect implementation of two-way roads (are they streets?) in New Albany.

That’s because as a non-automotive user of the city streets, I’ve found these credit-card-sized flashing beacons to be complete and utter jokes.

People walking still will find it far safer to look both ways and cross in the middle of a block; in spite of claims that traffic is moving more slowly since the reversion, the fact is that far too few calming measures were built into the rebooted grid. Team Gahan bet the farm that “friction” alone would calm traffic sufficiently for the myriad other two-way benefits to emerge.

Maybe, though these streets are still straightaways, just like before. They’re still built to promote speed and indifference, just like before, though now with “enhanced” crosswalk beacons intended not as a legitimate means of rectifying a root problem, but as a “hey, we did something” gesture, another bright, shiny paste-over symbol, this one pointing to how the fundamental mobility issues downtown have not been addressed at all by a “modernization” program that preserved (certainly on purpose) the downtown grid as composed of “complete roads” rather than altered into “complete streets.”

By the way, Greg … it’s just the way your political mentor Deaf Gahan wanted it to be. You, me and all the others have been the victims of a bait ‘n’ switch. I hope you continue to speak out publicly about it, and don’t worry; I’m sure Greg Fischer won’t unfriend you.

NEW ALBANY: Crosswalk safety questioned, by Chris Morris (Hanson Diffusion Compiler)

Education on flashing yellow lights needed, councilman says

NEW ALBANY — New Albany’s grid modernization plan, which converted downtown streets to two-way traffic, has been well received by the driving public. But that is not what brought City Councilman Greg Phipps to Tuesday’s New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety meeting Tuesday.

Phipps told the board he is concerned about pedestrian safety at the new crosswalks. He fears a majority of drivers don’t understand when the yellow light is flashing to yield to pedestrians. He said that is a formula for disaster.

“I’m afraid a pedestrian will start out in the crosswalk and a driver will be distracted and not see them,” Phipps said.

The news crosswalks are activated by a chip. City engineer Larry Summers said some of the chips are not functioning correctly and will have to be replaced. He also said a list is being made of crosswalks and areas along the conversion grid that need to be addressed.

Phipps said a few intersections are more dangerous than others, singling out the one at 10th and Elm streets. He said the red flashing light there has been taken down and drivers are “not coming to a complete stop.”

“Motorists are not stopping when lights are flashing,” he said.

He said he has seen similar issues at crosswalks at 13th and Spring streets, Eighth and Elm streets and in front of St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Spring Street.

Educating the public is key, Phipps said. He said there has been some information about the new crosswalks tucked inside monthly sewer bills. He also told the board he would be in favor of the city paying for and placing flexible yellow cones at intersections to warn the public.

“They [motorists] are used to stopping at red flashing lights, but they need to understand a yellow light flashing alerts them to pedestrians, and pedestrians always have the right of way,” Phipps said …