Northside pedestrians won't let drivers ignore them

CINCINNATI -- Sarah Fisher's business is at odds with its surroundings.

Not, mind, because the Northside community has not embraced Hamilton Avenue embroidery shop Hoops and Needles or because Fisher hasn't done the same in response. It has; she has. But it's difficult, she said, when customers are nearly struck in a crosswalk by oncoming motorists.

"I have had customers almost hit just trying to come here for a class, walking right in the crosswalk because no one pays attention," she said.

Northside residents and business owners such as Fisher have made the safety of Hamilton Avenue a pet issue since September 2016, when Tickle Pickle owner Sarah Cole was struck and killed outside her own restaurant. If it could happen to her, it could happen to their customers. It could happen to them. 

It could happen to their children.

City officials have promised to look for solutions to make the area safer, but residents still aren't sure when they'll see the results of a traffic survey meant to help identify the most viable solutions. Vice Mayor David Mann proposed adding a roundabout at a particularly thorny intersection, but there isn't a timeline for implementation there, either.

So Fisher decided to take a step of her own.

"This is a craft store," she said. "We are getting crafty with it."

Fisher and a small team of volunteers began making flags for Northside pedestrians to carry as they cross the street, providing an unmissable visual sign of their presence and making a statement about their right to walk safely in their own community. They're made from scrap fabric and placed in buckets by intersections; each one is totally unique but all are meant to be visually arresting enough that motorists can't help but notice.

Dominic LoPresti, owner of the nearby Spun Bicycles, said he hoped the flags would make a difference -- but there is still little hope for longterm improvement without help from the city.

"It's always kind of a Frogger game going on out here," he said. "It's very unsafe, and something needs to be done about it."

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