Safety first: South Lake Tahoe taking path to zero fatalities
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The intersection at Lake Tahoe Boulevard and the entrance to the gated residential section of Tahoe Meadows got a face lift on Wednesday with larger flashing stop signs positioned to stop bikes and scooters from crossing in front of vehicles entering and exiting the property. A third stop sign will be added to the exit of the community.
The Tahoe Meadows neighborhood is situated off U.S. Highway 50, across from the Econo Lodge.
Ron Yank, resident and president of the Tahoe Meadows Association, on Wednesday handed a $5,000 cashiers check to the city of South Lake Tahoe as part of a partnership between the private gated community and the public sector that began more than two years ago. The partnership was formed in efforts of improving the safety for all involved.
“Twenty-six months ago I brought it to the city, after Kay Starkweather brought her concerns to me,” Yank told the Tribune on Wednesday during the groundbreaking event.
Starkweather said, “Ron agreed with me and took it from there.”
Prior to Anush Nejad becoming the Director of Public Works for the city of South Lake Tahoe Yank said the process was slow moving.
“They hired a consulting company and their original plan was to create an overpass, so that the bikes would go under the driveway. That would have probably cost a couple hundred thousand dollars.
“Within the past two months a 7-year-old boy, following his older brother and three friends, swerved to miss one of our cars and crashed to the ground,” Yank added. “South Lake Tahoe Fire and South Lake Tahoe Police responded quickly to the scene.”
The community’s fear was that a fatality would occur before change was initiated. As Nejad enters his second year, improvements regarding safety concerns have become a focus for the city. The neighborhood association offered to provide $5,000 to reimburse replacing and installing the signs.
Nejad said, “While the stop signs are intended to increase compliance, I cannot guarantee that people will stop.” Nejad emphasized compliance as a leading cause of the issues at hands.
During the groundbreaking event on Tuesday not one pedestrian, scooter, or bicycle stopped at the stop sign. Approximately 20 people crossed the intersection within a 30-minute period.
Nejad said while bikes and scooters need to stop pedestrians still have right of way and vehicles should stop to allow for safe passage.
Additionally, Nejad told the Tribune that Tuesday at the city council meeting a grant application was approved for “Vision Zero.” The city, with help from Safe Streets 4 All, is seeking $250,000 in funding to address safety concerns.
SS4A is a federal grant program intended to provide $5 billion dollars in grant funds over the next five year period to allow for regions to initiate a strategy to reach the goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways.
Nejad said eligible entities include metropolitan planning organizations, counties, cities, towns and transit agencies, tribal governments and multijurisdictional groups made out of a compilation of the aforementioned.
The grant can be used to develop/update, plan, and execute action plan strategies to reach the ultimate goal of zero fatalities.
Nejad said there is currently not an action plan in place so they will be seeking the full grant amount to initiate Vision Zero. The first step, after securing the funds, will be to hire a consultation group to assess the top priorities within the city limits.
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