Pedestrian, bicyclist safety improvements on tap for East Palm Canyon

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2019 had the second-highest number of pedestrian fatalities in a decade. The worst year was 2016, when 29 people died.

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Safety improvements, including a new sidewalk, are on tap for a stretch of East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

Work is ongoing in the stretch between South Palm Canyon Drive and Sunrise Way. The $1.9 million project is expected to benefit pedestrians and bicyclists in the area.

The sidewalk is being installed along the eastbound lanes, west of Sunrise.

Other improvements include new crosswalks at various intersections and new street lights at the curve where South Palm Canyon meets East Palm Canyon, Assistant City Manager Marcus Fuller said.

The sidewalk portion in particular has caught the attention of local residents. It’s being built across a dirt lot that’s existed for years and disrupted joggers in particular.

“There’s sort of a dirt path on a small stretch and it makes running less smooth,” Palm Springs resident Alexis Linehan, 48, said as she jogged Thursday morning, briefly stopping because she was unsure she could go on the project site. “It’s an odd gap and really stands out. Everywhere else there’s pavement.”

The new crosswalks will be installed along East Palm Canyon at Sonora Road, Avenida Palmera, Calle Palo Fierro, Deep Well Road and Sagebrush Road. They will include flashing beacons to alert motorists pedestrians are trying to cross the street.

Completion is expected by mid-December.

Construction is the result of a valleywide effort to improve safety after an increase in pedestrian fatalities across the desert.

In 2016, 29 pedestrians died after being hit by vehicles across the Coachella Valley. It was the region’s highest number of pedestrian fatalities during a calendar year over the past decade.

The Coachella Valley Association of Governments announced, in response, it would issue grants for safety improvements benefiting pedestrians and bicyclists. Cities could receive up to $10 million from the CVAG Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program. 

The grant covers the Palm Springs improvement projects.

Desert Sun reporter Colin Atagi covers crime, public safety and road and highway safety. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him at @tdscolinatagi. Support local news, subscribe to The Desert Sun.

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