Don Singleton risks getting hit by a car twice a day when he walks to the grocery store near his apartment in Penn Hills.
“You wouldn’t believe how fast people come down that hill,” Singleton said. The 83-year-old lives with around 100 other seniors at Duff Manor, an apartment building near the Penn Hills Shopping Center on Duff Road.
Singleton said he’d been requesting some kind of relief for him and his peers from the municipality for around eight months. On June 13, the requests paid off.
Municipal Manager Scott Andrejchak said the municipality received four “pedestrian channelizing devices” to place in the middle of the street at crosswalks across Penn Hills. The fluorescent placards, placed in the middle of the road, alert drivers to yield to pedestrians making their way across a designated crosswalk.
Andrejchak said they would be installed at four crosswalks throughout Penn Hills.
They come just one day after a 66-year-old man was hit and killed by a car while walking across Saltsburg Road. Andrejchak said getting the signs is not related to the incident there.
Nevertheless, “when we hear about a pedestrian accident, it calls to mind that we do want to find ways to make pedestrian safety better. When tragedy happens, we think ‘what can we do in reason to make these areas safer? Especially at crossings.’ We really want motorists to slow down,” Andrejchak said.
The signs are free to municipalities through a PennDOT program, “Yield to Pedestrian Channelizing Devices Pedestrian Safety Program.” Andrejchak applied for the four signs June 12, four hours before the Saltsburg Road incident.
The other crosswalks that will now have a sign in the middle of the road are located at 10922 Frankstown Road, 10707 Frankstown Road and the intersection of Nelbon Avenue and Frankstown Road.
The sign at Duff Road adds to the crosswalk’s existing painted lines on Duff Road and two other florescent signs alerting drivers of the crosswalk.
William Carey Sr., 78, a resident at Duff Manor, said he is thankful for the sign. Carey gets around on a motorized cart.
“I almost got killed here four times,” he said, adding that being in a motorized cart limits how fast he can stop if a car is driving too fast.
Carey said he would like to see the municipality work on making it easier for pedestrians to traverse Rodi Road to get to the Penn Hills Senior Center.
Andrejchak said the signs lay the groundwork for an upcoming budget season that could include more local funding for safer crosswalks.
“We have a lot of pedestrians in Penn Hills. So we want to channel, if we can, pedestrians to an approved crossing, whether that’s having lines painted, a signalized section or getting a PennDOT-approved crosswalk. Because the safest place to cross a street is at a crosswalk,” Andrejchak said.
At this point, the manager said he does not know how much local money could be allocated to improve upon crosswalks.
“But we want to sustain the program locally in terms of keeping crossings as safe as possible. Motorists need to slow down at crossings,” he said.