La Mesa

La Mesa Councilman Wants to Reprogram Crosswalks to Protect People From Coronavirus

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Getting hit by a car isn't the only concern people have these days when they’re trying to cross the street, some are concerned if they touch the crosswalk buttons, they could contract the coronavirus.

That’s why people like Kathryn Narveson are increasingly using different appendages than their fingers to hit the buttons.

“I don’t want to touch the crosswalk. I’m protecting myself and others, so I just use my elbow when need be,” Narveson said swinging one of her elbows around to demonstrate.

Narveson’s move is a more common sight these days as people take precautions to avoid touching surfaces where the coronavirus may live.

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), current evidence suggests that the coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.

To help Narveson and others avoid having to do the elbow or kick-button push, La Mesa City Councilman Colin Parent resent a letter to the city manager Monday morning ahead of their Tuesday La Mesa City Council meeting.

It urges the city manager to reprogram the lights at major intersections, like La Mesa Boulevard and Spring Street, so people won't have to push a button to get a walk sign. Instead, they'll be automatic whenever the light cycles.

“This is really important for families with children or senior citizens or the disabled who don't have an option. They can't kick a button or they can't dart across a street… it's not safe and we need to make sure that our streets are safe for everyone," Parent said.

In an effort to keep the community safe from the coronavirus, like other cities, La Mesa is only allowing pick-up and takeout at its restaurants. And they've shut down the popular secret stairs that were being crowded by people.

In an effort to promote more social distancing Parent -- who’s also the director of Circulate San Diego, an organization that promotes bike-friendly and walkable neighborhoods -- is also planning to propose expanding walking space on sidewalks that may not be wide enough to keep people six feet apart.

"What I’m going to have staff look at, is identifying some of the parts of the street that currently is only able to be used by cars and be able to set it aside for bikes and pedestrians," Parent said.

Parent said the plan would not take parking away from businesses. Noting that considering the pandemic, it’s crucial the city look at its policies to make sure they're meeting the citizens' safety needs.

La Mesa City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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