‘They'll miss you by inches:' Pedestrians worry about safety in Northside intersection

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MADISON, Wis. - A busy intersection near a school on Madison’s north side is causing some concern for residents who say many cars aren’t yielding to pedestrians.

Madison police have put out temporary speed reminder signs and displays after hearing from a parent concerned about the busy intersection of Packers and Schlimgen Avenues.

In a message to city officials and Fox 47, Justin Masuga calls the intersection a “death trap.” He said many cars don’t stop even when the pedestrian lights are flashing, and he witnessed a car that was stopped get hit by another vehicle that didn’t slow down.

Isthmus Montessori Academy is less than a quarter mile from the crosswalk.

“Most of the time people don’t stop,” said John Bartos, who lives a block away from the intersection and crosses it every day. “I mean, you have to stand right out in the middle sometimes, and even then, they’ll try to run you over at times.”

Madison neighborhood police officer David Dexheimer said Packers Avenue has just gotten busier over the years.

“The speed limit is 35, which is fast,” Dexheimer said. “A lot of people exceed that.”

“It’s scary,” Bartos said. “I’ve had people stop and people behind them just pull out around them, and you’ll be right in the middle of the crosswalk, and they’ll miss you by inches.”

Dexheimer said permanent pedestrian crosswalk lights have been on Packers and Schlimgen for about a year after a push from area residents.

Bartos said they help “a little bit, but you still have a lot of people that don’t pay attention to it,” adding that he thinks there should be a stoplight.

Madison police have added signs encouraging drivers to slow down, but Dexheimer said any permanent changes have to come from the city’s engineering department..

"It doesn't come from the police department, but citizens working with their alders first of all who would work with traffic engineering, may be able to get fixes in place,” he said.

The city’s engineering department did not immediately respond to Fox 47’s messages.

Dexheimer said failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk can mean a $250 fine and four points on a driver’s record, but the risks are higher than that.

“Unlike another car, it’s awfully difficult to fix another human being,” he said.