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More than a year after car hit and killed teen in Alhambra, effort to increase safety stalled

Gabrielino graduate Bo Feng was 17 and getting ready to leave for college when a 73-year-old driver fatally struck her in Alhambra last July. Her death launched a movement to improve pedestrian safety at the intersection where she was killed — Shorb Street and New Avenue — and throughout the area. But more than a year later, the street remains essentially the same as when Feng – an only child — died just blocks from where her father was working in a nearby restaurant. 

“All I think we really need to do is put a light there,” said Feng's friend Kimiko Nishitsuji, who visited city councils in Alhambra and San Gabriel pleading for a flashing light to warn drivers of crossing pedestrians and received more than 1,000 signatures to a petition supporting the move. “It's not going to solve everything, but it's a start."

Bo Feng | via Feng's Facbook pageBut city officials said that after researching the situation they found no need for a LED light which would flash when pedestrians were crossing. Alhambra Police Department officials explained that the lights may not adequately ensure safety. "In some respects – not that [LED lights] don't serve a purpose – they do, but they're not a barrier and give pedestrians a false sense of safety,” Alhambra Police Department Captain Elliot Kase said. “There is no guarantee someone won't go through the signal."

Alhambra ranked among the top 10 most dangerous cities of its size for pedestrians in 2010, according to California Office of Traffic Safety, with 42 pedestrians killed or injured. As of August, there have been 31 pedestrian accidents this year, according to Sgt. Jerry Johnson of the Alhambra Police Department. Elderly pedestrians appear to be particularly at risk locally, with the fifth highest incident of accidents out of 104 cities in 2010 and the highest number of similar sized cities in 2009.

Source: California Office of Traffic Safety Kase said the police department is aware of the problem and that pedestrian safety efforts begin with education. Crosswalk safety operations take place throughout the year to increase awareness about pedestrian security. A police officer out of uniform will attempt to cross an intersection while a traffic officer observes surrounding drivers. If a driver fails to yield, the traffic officer will then proceed to pull the driver over.

The intersection the day of Feng was hit | Photo by Albert Lu Operations such as these can result in dozens of tickets being issued in one day. On a recent pedestrian safety operation, 70 citations were issued. "The police department's job is to enforce and a lot has to do with education,” Sgt. Gabriel Ponce said. “We prefer not to write tickets, but that is not the case. It's our job to educate. It's our job to enforce.”

Memorials to Feng | Photo by Albert LuBut Nishitsuji, who has now left town for college, remains concerned another person will be run over like her friend – and believes such accidents are preventable. She said that a family friend shared that "he's lived in San Gabriel for 45 years and he remembers at least 14 traffic accidents at that intersection, specifically involving pedestrians." Education and ticketing efforts, alone, she fears, is not enough. "It's something, but I don't know how giving out tickets really does anything," she said, adding, "It would be great if there was something more effective."

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4 thoughts on “More than a year after car hit and killed teen in Alhambra, effort to increase safety stalled”

  1. It is true that many immigrant drivers (not just Asians), but especially from Mainland China, are not familiar with the American driving system. And not all of them care. It’s unfortunate but true.

  2. I was stopped at a red light at the SE intersection of Main and Atlantic (just in front of the new County building), when I saw a woman pushing a double-stroller with her babies, waiting for the cross-walk light to turn green (she was heading west on Main).

    When it turned green for her to proceed, she started down off the sidewalk and all of a sudden, some jerk comes into the intersection, doesn’t even stop at the red light (he was coming north on Atlantic and turning right onto Main watching the traffic heading east and didn’t even bother to look to the sidewalk), and the woman had to quickly jerk the stroller out from the street and back onto the sidewalk. Had she not done so, these kids would’ve been killed.

    She was visibly shaken and I stopped and asked if she was OK.

    With the amount of bad drivers in Alhambra, it would behoove the city to install cameras at major intersections or have a patrolman at these corners. It would be a financial bonanza.

  3. I would hope city council would spend more time & effort in trying to resolve this very important issue; but no, instead they’re too busy aiding debelopers to tear down neighborhoods & replace them with very expensive condos which are leading to more vehicles, more traffic accidents/deaths.

  4. OK, let’s see. A flashing light costs the city money. Traffic tickets make the city money.

    Wonder why there is no flashing light? Read this comment again.