Eyes on the Street: DPW Installs Left Turn Signal at Deadly Intersection (Drivers Ignore It)

A new signal at 13th and Broadway, where Norlan Estrada Reyes killed 28-year-old Karina Pulec with his car in October,  gives pedestrians a safer walking phase. Drivers are completely ignoring it. Photo: David Sachs
A new signal at 13th and Broadway, where Norlan Estrada Reyes killed 28-year-old Karina Pulec with his car in October, gives pedestrians a safer walking phase. Drivers are completely ignoring it. Photo: David Sachs

Simple, inexpensive changes can go a long way toward making dangerous intersections safer. That’s why Denver Public Works installed a dedicated signal for drivers taking a left onto Broadway from 13th Avenue.

It used to be easy for drivers to take a fast left onto Broadway — even with a red light, as both speedy streets are one-way. Last October, Norlan Estrada Reyes did just that, killing 28-year-old attorney Karina Pulec as she walked in the crosswalk.

Karina Pulec. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Karina Pulec, killed at 13th and Broadway. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

DPW dispatched a rapid response team, and about three months later (a millisecond in bureaucratic terms) the new signal came online. The project cost about $6,000, DPW traffic signal engineer David DiGiacomo told Streetsblog.

“There have been 10 crashes since 2012 involving westbound left-turning vehicles and pedestrians in the south crosswalk, including one fatal hit-and-run last October,” DiGiacomo said in an email. “We had a six second leading pedestrian interval, but conflicts between pedestrians and drivers can be managed better by giving each mode an exclusive dedicated signal phase.”

I checked out the signal during morning rush hour, and it’s clear that drivers couldn’t care less about the new rule. In two signal phases, I watched seven drivers take a left with a red arrow, twice with pedestrians still in the crosswalk.

DPW is aware of the problem and will be installing a “Left Turn on Green Arrow Only” sign, DiGiacomo said, “to help remind folks what a red-arrow really means.”

That can’t hurt, but in the meantime this sounds like a job for Denver PD.

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