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Bozeman city officials focus on pedestrian safety

Posted at 3:28 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 18:18:52-04

BOZEMAN – Whether you are on foot or behind the wheel, trying to navigate through Downtown Bozeman can be tricky and frustrating.

But the City of Bozeman has a master plan, aiming to make everything from roads to sidewalks safer.

“We’re constantly looking at our street network and our pedestrian network for how we can improve safety,” said Bozeman City Engineer Shawn Kohtz.

For Kohtz, making someone’s walk through town a safe one has become more than a career.

It’s a city routine.

“There are newer things that we are doing now to improve pedestrian safety,” Kohtz said. “For example, we are now getting wider, shared-use paths on some of our major streets.”

The idea, larger, more accommodating sidewalks, starting with something as small as taking care of your own portion of the sidewalk.

And — more warning signs.

“When people are walking on sidewalks, it is a very social activity so, a lot of times, you see people three abreast and so in those scenarios where we get heavy use, we are getting wider facilities and facilities where bikes can also use them, as well,” Kohtz said.

Kohtz added everything that is needed for improvement throughout the city is already planned out through what is called the Transportation Master Plan with pedestrian safety as step number one.

“We see a lot of pedestrian traffic and I would like to see a little more safety for them by having maybe left-hand turn arrows,” said Ruth Kack, who works downtown.

Ruth Kack works at one of the busiest intersections.

She says a little patience goes a long way toward safety.

“When it says don’t walk to not walk as a pedestrian and for cars to not honk at pedestrians,” Kack said.

Kohtz said flashing light crossings and hybrid beacons are a part of the plan.

As the budget allows, the improvements will slowly happen…city-wide.

Until then, for both drivers and pedestrians, Kohtz said signs can’t completely stop mistakes and people should keep their wits about them.

“It’s hard to anticipate when you have a distracted driver so the vigilance part helps with that,” Kohtz said.

You can take a look at Bozeman’s Transportation Master Plan by clicking here.

Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News