The City Council meeting room was packed Tuesday afternoon with families waiting to speak to the council in outrage after the Frazier Avenue wreck on Saturday afternoon that killed two pedestrians and critically injured a third.
Local advocate Jon Jon Wesolowski was the first to describe “the Walnut Sreet Bridge dumping pedestrians onto that meatgrinder.”
“It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when,” he said. Others said that the pace of Frazier Avenue is incompatible what Chattanoogans have lately built everywhere else in North Chattanooga and downtown.
“I am devastated that we have had a loss of life that will be the catalyst of change,” said Vice Chairwoman Jenny Hill. “In this moment I think it’s important that we get every idea on the table.”
Councilman Chip Henderson recalled a short traffic study in 2016 that cut Frazier Avenue down to two travel lanes to slow traffic, and he and Ms. Hill said that at the time and in surveys since the community didn’t want traffic to be altered. She said, “This is an opportunity for this council to begin having a more modern conversation.”
“That may be something that we want to request again,” Councilman Henderson said.
“The state isn’t addressing these issues,” said Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod. “The law sets pedestrians up and bikers up for failure,” she said.
Councilman Darrin Ledford said, “I think we should all be pretty ticked.”
CITATIONS FOR ROLLERBLADING
Councilwoman Hill proposed that city code be updated to lawfully accommodate in-line skates on downtown roads and in crosswalks. As it stands, skaters can and have been stopped by police and ticketed for using the bike lane. She asked that the item be put on the agenda as a first read in three weeks, on Dec. 18.
“We have laws specifically against Rollerblades,” said Ms. Hill. She said state law allows any nonmotorized vehicle in a bike lane and local code should not prevent that.
“We can make strides to be accommodating to our multimodal transportation,” she said.
Councilwoman Carol Berz said she was concerned about the safety of in-line skates and scooters in bike lanes and questioned that “any” nonmotorized vehicle be allowed.
Ms. Berz said the city should first examine what may be “inadequate infrastructure” before big changes are made “and not put anyone in harm’s way,” she said.
The City Council voted Tuesday to begin a city-wide social and economic equity study.
City Council approved $19,800 for a professional services agreement with UTC professor Dr. Marcus Mauldin to conduct a Chattanooga Social and Economic Equity Study Proposal to study race, gender, age, education, health care, criminal justice and access to food.
Ms. Hill asked to amend the agreement in scope to add a framework component that the Council can use to evaluate current and future policies and programs.
Ms. Coonrod asked that the timeframe be extended past February to March 31.