‘Wear a helmet while crossing street’ | Signs spark conversation about pedestrian safety in St. Louis

Two deaths along South Grand in a few months have sparked strong reactions from residents, business owners and city leaders.
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 10:47 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Along each block of the busy South Grand business corridor you’ll notice signs and helmets advising “all pedestrians crossing any St. Louis street should wear a helmet while crossing such street.” The signs are fake but they address a very real problem in the City of St. Louis.

“Its’ not just a problem here on Grand but citywide,” said Marti Koenig who lives near Tower Grove Park. He witnessed a person get run over and killed this summer.

Two deaths along South Grand in a few months have sparked strong reactions from residents, business owners and city leaders.

A meeting Monday night saw more than100 people pack a room at the library on South Grand. Representatives from the mayor’s office, the St. Louis Police Department and the Streets Department presented information on studies, traffic enforcement and plans to make streets safer in South St. Louis and citywide.

“We are working at an extreme pace, or a faster pace than normal, because we know Mayor Jones has told us she wants to see something done and we are committed to making changes you can see in the City of St. Louis,” said Betherny Williams, the director of St. Louis Streets.

The city says they hope to have a plan in six months to address some of the concerns regarding pedestrian safety. According to a spokesperson for the city, 11 pedestrians have been killed so far this year and two bicyclists.

The signs placed along South Grand call St. Louis #1 in pedestrian deaths. The mayor’s office says that is not accurate. They could not provide where St. Louis ranks, calling it a complicated answer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association ranks Missouri as 17th in pedestrian deaths, and a recent study by Smart Growth America lists the top 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians and St. Louis is not on the list.

Whatever the ranking, it’s clear from those who live, work and hang out in St. Louis that something needs to change.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed and hopefully [the signs] will draw attention to that need,” said Koenig.

City leaders said one big change would be addressing the problem as a comprehensive city need. For years pedestrian safety and road improvements have been handled on a ward-by-ward basis. The city says they will work toward a comprehensive traffic plan for St. Louis as a whole.