Dangers of walking in some Central Valley areas

FRESNO, Calif.

Jaywalkers made their way across traffic in Downtown Fresno Tuesday afternoon, darting through danger to shave a minute or so off their walk. It's one of several pedestrian problem spots police have noticed.

"Downtown, especially during the week, we have a large influx of not just cars, but also pedestrians," said Sgt. Rich Tucker. "Another bad corridor is the Blackstone corridor, where the bus stop is there.

Officers also see trouble near Fresno State. After noticing a spike in deadly traffic pedestrian accidents last year, they started targeting jaywalkers to raise awareness.

This year, only one pedestrian has died in a Fresno accident. But a new study from "Transportation for America" shows the counties of the Central Valley are among the most dangerous in California.

Madera County has the most deadly accidents per capita in the Valley, and the second most in the entire state. Neighbors say it's often hard to get around on foot.

Yolanda Contreras said, "There's some locations that you could and there's others where there's no way you could walk."

Madera city engineers have seen the numbers and they're working to make it safer to walk. And they're going beyond just painting crosswalks on the street.

"Crosswalks tend to make people feel more safe," said Keith Helmuth. "But that's not necessarily the truth about crosswalks."

Keith Helmuth says drivers often don't notice painted crosswalks.

Just last September, a three-year-old boy was hit and killed in this crosswalk. A few blocks away, construction is now underway on a lighted crosswalk at a Madera school.

Those crosswalks with flashing lights are a relatively new idea to raise the profile of pedestrians. They've been shown to work in places like Clovis, Sanger, and Orange Cove.

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