Like many small towns across America, traffic speed and pedestrian safety are a concern in Carefree. Over the years, various initiatives to slow traffic speed and improve pedestrian safety on our two major roadways, Tom Darlington Road and Cave Creek Road, have been implemented with limited degrees of success. In response to these needs, the Carefree Town Council has been reviewing how best to address safety issues while looking at options which would have both a calming impact and improve our quality of life.
While reviewing various crosswalk options, the Town hired a consultant with extensive highway and pedestrian safety credentials, Rick Engineering, who made recommendations for restriping and median modifications that would effectively take existing one-lane choke points and extend these through the existing pedestrian crossing areas. Single lane traffic slows vehicles and shortens crossing points making pedestrian crossings safer. Plus, slower street traffic would mean less traffic noise. Rick Engineering’s traffic studies demonstrated that multiple lanes in each direction are not necessary.
Reducing traffic to one lane would potentially make 12 additional feet of paved right of way available. When combined with the existing 18 feet of shoulder right of way, this would potentially yield 30 feet of usable space on both sides of each roadway, perhaps creating greater opportunity to meet other Town Center needs. As an extension of the consultant Kimley Horn signage plan, currently underway, the Town included these areas to be further evaluated as part of an overall circulation and parking plan.
Included in this additional exploration are solutions addressing a better presence and arrival in the Town Center, adding street parking, and most intriguingly, to allow for multi-purpose pathways for bicycles, dog walking, and pedestrians, maybe even pocket parks. Those residents living within walking distance of the Carefree Town Core would have the opportunity to walk more safely and comfortably to the post office, restaurants, and the Carefree Desert Gardens. The major roadways, which today serve as a barrier to fully accessing and enjoying our Town Core, would suddenly be easier to navigate more safely.
A 15-member citizen, business and property owner stakeholder group has been assembled to evaluate realistic options and make recommendations. Additionally, public meetings will be conducted in the near future. The outcome of these studies and plans is to have tangible solutions, with identified costs and financing mechanisms, so community input and support is essential. Your ideas and suggestions are solicited and welcomed. This will be your opportunity to make your thoughts known. This major undertaking, based upon input and consensus, could bring widespread benefits to residents and businesses.
And we just might find that by simplifying the pedestrian crossings on our major roadways, we can make the situation better for all concerned.