Improving crosswalk safety near Anchorage senior center
October 1, 2023 | View PDF
For the last year, the Anchorage Age-Friendly Leadership Team has been gathering input from Anchorage residents on how to make Anchorage a better place to live for people of all ages, including seniors. After considering comments from the Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission, the Anchorage Senior Activity Center and several residents of Chugach View and Chugach Manor senior housing, the team decided to look at pedestrian safety near the senior center. On Aug. 23, the Team conducted a walk audit of the area around the Anchorage Senior Activity Center to determine the safety and accessibility for those walking to the senior center. The leadership team was joined by members of the senior center board and the Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission as well as a Dept. of Transportation contractor, staff from senior housing, AARP Alaska volunteers and staff. The group braved the rainy weather to walk the path from the senior center to the senior housing complex and along both sides of 19th avenue between Karluk and Orca.
The results will not be surprising to those who walk in this area. The walk audit team found that a crosswalk is needed between the senior housing and the activity center. The team proposes a crosswalk that includes a timed pedestrian crossing signal with both visual and auditory signals as well as flashing lights to alert drivers. There are several reasons this type of crosswalk is needed: a painted crosswalk will be covered with snow during the winter; the wide street takes a long time to cross; traffic tends to speed through the area.
As many residents at the housing complex have mobility impairments, a raised crosswalk would be ideal to improve accessibility for those using wheelchairs and walkers as well as to slow vehicle traffic. Crosswalks at the Karluk and Orca intersections would also improve safety and accessibility for people who are walking.
Another major issue seen during the walk audit was people parking partially on the sidewalk and blocking half of the walking path, making it impossible for those using wheelchairs or walkers to get past. The walk audit team also noticed that people tend to park as close as possible to the front doors of the senior center, limiting drivers’ view of people crossing the street. The group has low-cost suggestions for these issues, including painting curbs to designate “no parking” areas near pedestrian crossings and launching an education campaign to make sure people do not park on the sidewalk.
Other suggestions for improving walkability in the area include repairing the cracks in the sidewalk, adding speed limit and pedestrian crossing signs on 19th Avenue, clearing vegetation and gravel from the sidewalk, adding a stop sign at the intersection of Karluk and 19th, ensuring trash from dumpsters doesn’t block the sidewalk, adding speed bumps to slow traffic, painting curb cuts to make them more visible, and re-painting the lines on the street to designate lanes and parking area.
The AARP Anchorage Age-Friendly Leadership Team is planning to share the information from this walk audit with the Municipality of Anchorage Traffic Calming/Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, local community councils and legislators to advocate for needed changes. If you are interested in helping to make Anchorage more friendly for people of all ages, you can provide comments by taking our survey at https://bit.ly/age-friendly-questionnaires. If you are interested in volunteering to participate in activities like this walk audit, help develop a plan for Anchorage or advocate for changes, contact Patrick Curtis at 907-268-7919 or firstname.lastname@example.org.