These Danville residents are fed up with safety concerns downtown. They’re doing something about it.

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Citizens United for Pedestrian-safety In Downtown Danville, or CUPIDD for short, is a group of local citizens who want to work with state and local governments to improve downtown pedestrian safety.

The group was started a couple of weeks ago by a concerned downtown business owner, Mary Robin Spoonamore, after years of accidents involving pedestrians, including a recent fatality at the intersection of Main and Third streets.

“We are at a crisis point, a point where our suggestions for change in traffic structure must be considered and change must be made, or else we can expect more horrific tragedies,” Spoonamore said in an email.

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“Our strength will be in our numbers — our ability as a community to voice our discontent with the current situation and to demonstrate our willingness to put forth thought, time and energy into finding solutions … as allies with our elected and appointed officials.”

Spoonamore said she’s written 13 letters between 2010 and 2018 to the Kentucky Department of Transportation voicing her concern for pedestrian safety in downtown Danville, but has gotten no response.

“I realized that after failing to make any difference as an individual advocate for traffic-calming measures downtown, I saw we really needed to band together with as many folks as possible to create the most pressure for change.”

Fortunately, Spoonamore said, there are other groups in the county who are also concerned with finding solutions to the safety problems.

“Smart Growth (Boyle) is directly involved, because their guiding principles include a thriving and walkable downtown. The Heart of Danville has been working on this for at least 10 years. And (the Safe Communities Coalition) has considered the issue. We are stronger as all these groups coalesce.”

As the downtown master plan is being developed by consulting firm Bravura, citizens and various groups should emphasize the importance of pedestrian safety, when asked for their input, she said.

“We hope the DOT can see us as reasonable people — people that desire a vibrant community hub, starting with safety as a baseline. We hope they see how detrimental our traffic issues are to our earnest desire for a welcoming and walkable downtown.”

Spoonamore said CUPIDD wants to form a relationship with the state to make meaningful changes — perhaps with “stripes and lights and blinks,” to make drivers slow down and be more aware of people walking across the streets.

“Governing bodies need to make safety a prime consideration right now. Why encourage citizens to shop, eat, work and play downtown if it is not safe for pedestrians?”

Spoonamore said she thinks the first intersection to be addressed should be at Main and Third streets. “But other intersections need to be audited because accidents are too high there.”

Fourth and Walnut streets, where her business, Jane Barleycorn’s, is located, has made her particularly aware of the high numbers of accidents there.

“People who work near these intersections know how dangerous they are. We have come to understand each intersection has unique, intrinsic issues, but not ones that can’t be solved.”

More information about CUPIDD is available on its Facebook page.