Clarksville pedestrians 'taking their life in their own hands' to cross a busy street

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – For most of us, getting hit by a car would be pretty shocking, but you may be shocked to learn that’s happened to some people who have used Manna Café and the Refuge shelter on Providence Boulevard.

Andrew Moes said he was hit while crossing Providence Blvd. last year, by a woman driving while on her cell phone. 

“I waited for the light to turn red; it turned red; I tried to cross; she hit me pretty hard,” Moes said. “They asked me did I need any assistance, I’m like no I’m good. As long as I can get up and walk away from the scene, I’m fine.”

Someone who couldn’t get up and walk away was his friend, 55-year-old James Nickell, who died on November 18th while crossing Providence to get to the shelter.   

“It’s very difficult because when you lose a friend you feel like you lose your whole family,” Moes said.  

It’s a problem Manna Cafe’s chief operating officer, Ken Shipley, sees frequently.  

“When they get to the exterior of our Manna property, literally, sometimes they’re taking their life in their own hands to step across the street,” Shipley explained.     

Data: Clarksville Police Department

As Clarksville continues to grow, so does the number of pedestrians getting hit. Just last year, 65 pedestrians were hit, including four people who died.  

“We’re playing catch up, as far as our infrastructure, not just roads but sidewalks,” Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts said.  

Mayor Pitts is working to fix that problem through the city’s Transportation 2020+ plan. 

The $432 million project aims to keep up with Clarksville’s population, predicted to grow by 40% over the next 20 years. It aims to improve and add news roads, while also adding crosswalks, bike lanes, and sidewalks.   

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Clarksville and Montgomery County

Clarksville Transportation 2020+ plan accounts for 40% population growth by 2040

Mayor Pitts said one big priority is to add walkability around new subdivisions, so parents and children can get to area schools without having to drive.  

“The Transportation 2020 plan is just basically a plan to let folks know here’s what we’re trying to do. It’s fluid, because it’s going to change, and it does change literally year to year because the growth of our city is happening in every quadrant of our city,” Mayor Pitts said. 

Although the city can continue to add infrastructure, Mayor Pitts’ biggest message is for pedestrians to use it.

“It’s our major state thoroughfares that are seeing most of the pedestrian accidents. So please, if you’re driving these roads, pay attention, and if you’re walking, please, please go to a signalized intersection,” Pitts urged.   

Police admit most pedestrian crashes aren’t at crosswalks. On the other hand, Manna Café clients told News 2 some of them are disabled, making the 50-to-100-yard trek to get to a crosswalk challenging.  

Clarksville police recently secured three different federal grants, worth $272,500 altogether, to address pedestrian safety, and distribute things like reflective gear.  

Clarksville police distribute reflective gear to pedestrians in community. PHOTO: Clarksville Police Department

At the end of the day, they say the problem of pedestrian safety isn’t lost on them, and they hope to be part of the solution.  

“When they go onto a scene and there is a person laying on the ground that has been struck by a car or in a vehicle that’s in a crash, it has an effect on someone to see that injury because those people are in pain. You know, we’re human, so it effects us as well,” Clarksville Police Department Public Information Officer Scott Beaubien said. 

Clarksville’s 2020+ transportation plan is currently in tier one of the project. There are a total of three phases. You can find more on the project’s progress here.