Home
  Home
Crosswalks
and Sidewalks
in Iowa City
What Other Cities Are Doing
What Other Cities
are Doing
Resources
Resources
Strategies for Activism
Strategies for Activism
"All people are pedestrians, and as pedestrians are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All too often, people must risk their lives to walk. All too often, people are not at liberty to travel outside the confinement of a motor vehicle. All too often, barren streets allow one to walk, but produce no joy or happiness from the experience."
—A Declaration of Pedestrian Rights
(Read More frpm the Declaration)


Problem Areas in Iowa City

South Grand, Melrose, Byington
(University of Iowa Medical Campus)

It's difficult to imagine that pedestrian planning in this area of Iowa City is anything other than an afterthought! The photographs shown at the right shows example of a part of the University of Iowa where the City of Iowa City
What's missing from this newly reconstructed section of South Grand? The Sidewalk!
What's missing from this newly reconstructed section of South Grand? The Sidewalk!


And just across the street pedestrians are greeted with exiting cars from this new parking ramp with no pavement markings and no warning to drivers they might be exiting into pedestrians.
reconstructed and reconfigured a traffic pattern on West Bank campus with little regard to pedestrian safety. The interest of driver speed is clearly the primary planning goal in this corridor.

South Grand Avenue was rebuilt with no sidewalk at all on the east side of the street (pedestrians are expected to use the Quadrangle parking lot as a consolation prize). Directly across the street a new parking ramp was built with no reminder to drivers that they are exiting into a sidewalk. There is no crosswalk marking at these exits. There are no signs warning drivers to yield to pedestrians as they exit this ramp into South Grand.

The intersection of South Grand and Melrose includes crosswalk marking, but as traffic from South Grand to westbound Melrose requires no stop, it can be difficult for a pedestrian to cross the street at this location. This intersection needs to be signalized with Melrose place to require a stop before the right turn in order to allow pedestrians to cross safely.

Melrose was made into a long block one-way street which tends to tempt drivers into speeding toward the law school pedestrian crossing. This crossing on a curve and has no signage but does have pavement markings.

The one-way pairs created with

No stop is required for vehicles to turn right at this intersection. Problem is, they rarely stop for pedestrians either. The crosswalk is placed so far from the intersection that drivers usually block it trying to make the left turn as you can see here.


Can you see the crosswalk at Byington and Melrose? Drivers generally can't or won't yield if they do see. Melrose is one-way at this point and drivers usually get to a speed well above the speed limit by the time they reach this poorly placed crosswalk that has no signage but is pavement marked. Pedestrians are frustrated because of the poor alignment with walking desire vectors.
Grand, South Grand, Melrose, and Byington have resulted in a campus street designed more with traffic flow in mind than pedestrians. This is an odd choice for a busy college campus with pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

Soon, the Grand/South Grand Roundabout will be completed. This project will add to the challenges pedestrians faced because the sidewalk patterns make pedestrians travel long ways around what should be straight-line travel. Even now pedestrians are seen walking in the street rather than using the sidewalks. Iowa is cold in the winter and hot in the summer and pedestrians should not be asked to take detours for the benefit of automobile traffic. As traffic exits the roundabout southbound, almost immediately there is a marked crosswalk which will be a bit difficult for drivers to see (the crosswalk also has no signage).

When students return in the Fall, the missing sidewalk necessity on South Grand will become apparent as a foot created track appears in grass. After the first snow, pedestrians have to make their own path in piled snow to access the South Quadrangle parking lot as a substitute for the sidewalk. Some pedestrians choose to walk in the street.

Photo to come 
West Benton Street Hill Crossing
The City of Iowa City received a $50,000 Federal grant to install an automated crosswalk signal that is pedestrian activated (motion sensors). Previous to this installation these were used in the City of Seattle and proven ineffective. The warning to drivers that a crosswalk may be occupied by a pedestrian is largely ignored and the installation provides little security to a heavily used and very dangerous pedestrian crossing on West Benton.



This is College and Dodge Streets. No crosswalk marking at the intersection used heavily even on this Labor Day, 2007 picture. Note the ICPD officer failing to yield to this pedestrian.
This is College and Dodge Streets. No crosswalk marking at the intersection used heavily even on this Labor Day, 2007 picture. Note the ICPD officer failing to yield to this pedestrian.

Two blocks away at College and Governor a pedestrian (highlighted) runs across an unmarked, unsignalized, yet heavily used intersection. The one way pairs of Dodge and Governor have traffic frequently moving at speeds up to 40 mph (the posted speed is 25 mph)
Two blocks away at College and Governor a pedestrian (highlighted) runs across an unmarked, unsignalized, yet heavily used crosswalk. The one way pairs of Dodge and Governor have traffic frequently moving at speeds up to 40 mph (the posted speed is 25 mph)
College Street crossing Dodge/Governor (Iowa Highway 1)
College Street as it intersects the one-way pairs (this is Iowa Highway 1) of Governor Street (northbound) and Dodge Street (southbound) is a heavily used pedestrian crossing. There are no signals or crosswalk markings at this intersection. The crosswalk is not even signed. Pedestrians who demand their right to cross at this pair of intersections are met with hostility and epithets from many drivers. The speed limit on the Governor/Dodge pairs is 25 mph and is largely ignored by drivers and unenforced by the ICPD. As you can see in the first picture, the pedestrian crossing (although there are no markings, this is still a legal crosswalk) blythely drives by a pedestrian about to cross Dodge Street.

Do you think if this pedestrian would receive a jaywalking ticket if he crossed before the squad car? One Iowa City officer told me that all pedestrian fatalities in Iowa City were the fault of the pedestrian. Hrmph!




The Newton Road crosswalk has flag signs reminding drivers that yielding to pedestrians is state law. Also the crosswalk is raised to encourage traffic calming before the crossing.
Newton Road Parking Ramp Crossing
This is one place the City and the University of Iowa almost gets it right. There would be better compliance if
The Newton Road crossing is the only place in Iowa City where this flag sign is used in Iowa City. Use of this signage is becoming more common in other cities throughout the United States. Iowa City Planner Jeff Davidson has been quoted as saying he believes these signs are ignored. The Newton Road crossing is arguably the most driver-compliant crosswalk in Iowa City.
the "flag" signs were mounted in the centerline on a flexible fixture. The hump is a nice touch and the compliance at this crossing is pretty good. Iowa City needs about 50 more crossings just like this one! Speeding enforcement needs to be stepped up on Newton Road. This is the only street on campus posted at 20 mph. (although enforcement is shoddy and vehicular speeds are frequently much higher). That speed limit should be repeated everywhere else on the UI campus.

The Newton Road crossing is the only place in Iowa City where this flag sign is used in Iowa City. Use of this signage is becoming more common in other cities throughout the United States. Iowa City Planner Jeff Davidson has been quoted as saying he believes these signs are ignored. The Newton Road crossing is arguably the most driver-compliant crosswalk in Iowa City.



This car is not stopping for this pedestrian at the EPB/Iowa Avenue crossing.
This car is not stopping for this pedestrian at the EPB/Iowa Avenue crossing.
Iowa Avenue and the
UI English Philosophy Building

One of your webmaster's constant pet peeves. The University and the City of Iowa City made the crossing ADA compliant and then refused to stripe the crosswalk saying they didn't want to give pedestrians a false sense of security. Perhaps if there was traffic enforcement to slow the 35-45 mph traffic down to the posted speed limit of 25 mph (lower would be better) then perhaps pedestrians would feel more secure. There is no real traffic need that necessitates this be marked as a four lane road. This is one mid-block crosswalk that is screaming for a pedestrian-activated signal. The City of Iowa City uses the 85% rule to justify that the average vehicle speed in excess of 30 mph is of no real safety concern since drivers are competent to judge a safe speed in the presence of pedestrians (heavy sarcasm intended).


This runner is not well protected on this newly constructed Burlington Street sidewalk due to the distance between the crossing and the busy street. Great for aesthetics, but lousy for pedestrian safety.
This runner is not well protected on this newly constructed Burlington Street sidewalk due to the distance between the crossing and the busy street. Great for aesthetics, but lousy for pedestrian safety.
Burlington Street at Iowa Rail Crossing
This is a newly constructed wide sidewalk which would be great (wide enough to be shared by cyclists not inclined to use Burlington Street with pedestrians) if it weren't for the crossing (the access road for the parking lot behind the Main Library and English Philosophy Building) being so far away from the actual intersection with Burlington Street. Drivers turning into this access road from the busy street will not likely willingly yield to pedestrians here. As of this writing the crossing does not have pavement markings or signs.



The traffic coming toward us in this picture may make a left turn into Burlington without stopping. While they are obligated to stop for pedestrians crossing the end of Burlington it would take a brave soul to cross here to continue on to the signal at Court Street one block to the southeast.
The traffic coming toward us in this picture may make a left turn into Burlington without stopping. While they are obligated to stop for pedestrians crossing the end of Burlington it would take a brave soul to cross here to continue on to the signal at Court Street one block to the southeast.
Burlington Street at Muscatine Avenue
Iowa City traffic engineers and planners seem to be great fans of intersections where drivers don't have to stop. Burlington and Muscatine is one such intersection in an otherwise very walkable close-in Iowa City neighborhood. Where does one cross the street here? Running is a good idea—should you be able!

Not a crosswalk marking to be had. Vehicles eastbound on Burlington and northbound on Muscatine approach this intersection fast! Some vehicles have even overshot the curve coming down Burlington to land in the front yards of the houses on Muscatine. Those houses now have guard rails defending them.
Not a crosswalk marking to be had. Vehicles eastbound on Burlington and northbound on Muscatine approach this intersection fast! Some vehicles have even overshot the curve coming down Burlington to land in the front yards of the houses on Muscatine. Those houses now have guard rails defending them.


And let's not forget our dear sprawly
next door neighbor Coralville!


The only way one can use these bike rack at Coral Ridge Mall is at the ends. The racks come with installation guidelines but I guess they weren't read. These certainly weren't installed by anyone who has ridden a bike recently!
Bike Racks at Coral Ridge Mall
Was the idea that only bicycles ridden by the Jolly Green Giant would ever be ridden to Coral Ridge Mall? These bike racks are mounted about 18" too high to be useful.



Bike "Lane" on Fifth Street
It's about as wide as bike handlebars, it's littered with, well, litter. There are sewer grates, pavement imperfections and various other hazards. This needs to be three feet wider and that would nicely slow traffic down on Fifth Street.

Fifth Avenue Bike "Lane" on Coralville. An exercise in "feel good" facilities. But this lane is not likely to make anyone who rides a bike feel good at all.
Fifth Avenue Bike "Lane" on Coralville. An exercise in "feel good" facilities. But this lane is not likely to make anyone who rides a bike feel good at all.


"Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities. Highways and roads obliterate the places they are supposed to serve."
—Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead

© 2007 Donald Baxter (contact Donald Baxter) and Pedestrians of Iowa City