Boys' deaths provokes crosswalk review

April 14, 2008 9:12:10 PM PDT
There is still a makeshift memorial at the corner of Falls of Neuse Road and Spring Forest Road in North Raleigh.

It serves as a stark reminder that tragedy struck there very recently, when Kaled and Basil Shahin darted out into traffic and were hit by an SUV. Both boys, 9-year-old Kaled and 7-year-old Basil, died.

The brothers were crossing against the light at the time, but their deaths have nonetheless brought increased scrutiny on that intersection as well as other busy intersections throughout the city.

Eyewitness News timed the traffic signal at the Falls of Neuse-Spring Forest intersection and found the icon to "walk" is up for just about 7 seconds before the signal starts flashing its red, warning hand. There are six lanes of traffic that pedestrians must cross in that location.

Eyewitness News checked several other busy interactions as well and found the same thing. At Six Forks Road and Millbrook Road, the signal to "walk" is only up for 6 seconds before flashing red as one tries to cross Six Forks. At the intersection of Creedmoor and Lynn Roads, the signal to "walk" is up for 7 seconds as one walks across 7 lanes of Creedmoor Road. It's important to point out, however, that the flashing red warning signs remain up longer than most might think, between 20 and 30 seconds in most cases.

Raleigh's mayor is calling for a review of the intersection where the Shahin boys were hit.

"It's really very hard, they're not pedestrian-friendly at all," Mayor Charles Meeker said, speaking of busy intersections. "It's a real challenge for anyone who's on foot. Those streets are hard to cross when you have 5 or 7 lanes, turn lanes, it's very difficult."

Raleigh's Transportation Operations Manager says all signals are timed in accordance with federal standards for safety. Mike Kennon, the manager, says his staff has investigated the Falls of Neuse-Spring Forest intersection and found that all signals were working properly when the accident involving the Shahin boys happened in early April.

Kennon reminds pedestrians of the importance of knowing what each different traffic signal actually is intended to mean.

"The "Walk" is set up to tell you, 'it's okay to step off the curb.' It is not meant to get you all the way across the street," Kennon says. "The flashing 'Don't Walk' is an indication that if you haven't left the curb, don't leave."

Kennon says plans are in place to put new pedestrian signals at all busy Raleigh intersections that countdown just how many seconds remain before a traffic light turns red. Several have already been installed, many of them along Hillsborough Street and Western Boulevard where there are high concentrations of pedestrians.


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