Jennifer Burton
Channel 2 News

We are coming out of a deadly year for pedestrian accidents in Washoe County, and the community wants to do something about it. Monday night the University of Nevada hosted a town hall-style meeting focused on the latest efforts to make the streets safer for everyone.  About 60 people came out to hear about some improvements that are in the works and some that have already been implemented; and they got to give some input of their own.

Paula Penrod had a personal reason to attend the forum.

"I came tonight because my son was killed at the corner of 4th and Washington, says Penrod. "It's a high traffic, high profile intersection with no safety devices to allow pedestrians to cross safely."

The public forum on pedestrian safety gave people the chance to speak up and to hear from public safety experts about what's being done to improve safety at crosswalks and streets around the university. For example there's a brand new crosswalk at 17th and Virginia streets, which is the intersection where KTVN sports director JK Metzker was hit and killed this fall. The crosswalk, which was donated, is part of a bigger plan to add bike lanes and possibly change the speed limit on Virginia.

Marchon Miller, project director for the Regional Transportation Commission, gave an update on what's been done and what's ahead. 

"As you see out there right now, we've installed some of the stutter flashes," says Miller. "Also we're going to be doing a road reduction where we're taking it down to three lanes and adding bike lanes. We're also going to be extending some of the cuts at the crosswalks to make it a little bit safer for pedestrians."

Channel 2's Wendy Damonte moderated a panel discussion that included representatives from law enforcement and the university. Students at the Davidson Academy reported on data they collected about how people use crosswalks.

"They were ignoring the laws or misinterpreting the laws," says Anthony Dyer, a UNR freshman. "That's really our mission, to educate people about what laws are in place."

University of Nevada Police Commander Eric James says the university has some unique challenges.

"Since we are a commuter school, we have a lot of students coming to school who park off campus and walk to the campus," says James. "Not only that but we have big events. The other night we had close to ten-thousand people on campus for a basketball game. A lot of those people are going to be walking in that campus, around the campus and through the campus to get to their vehicles."             

Right now the city is working on a sewer project in the area around UNR. Once that's done, the Regional Transportation Commission will come in and make changes to Sierra and Virginia streets near the campus. Drivers and pedestrians should see those changes start this summer, right after Hot August Nights.