The city of Columbus has changed the signalization at the intersection of South High and Whittier streets in an effort to improve pedestrian safety.

The "lead pedestrian interval" system, or LPI, gives pedestrians an extra 5 to 7 seconds to cross High before the light turns green for motorists on Whittier, said Reynaldo Stargell, administrator of the city's traffic management division.

In other words, when the light turns red on High Street it almost immediately turns green on Whittier - the time when pedestrians have right of way crossing High, Stargell said.

"The whole premise of an LPI is to give pedestrians a head start to better establish their presence in the crosswalks and make themselves more conspicuous to turning vehicles," he said.

Signalization has not changed on High Street, he said.

Between 2014 and 2017, there were eight pedestrian-related accidents and one involving a bicycle -- none fatal -- on South High at the intersection, he said. No accidents were reported on Whittier, he said.

Part of the problem, Stargell said, is that the intersection is uneven: There's a curve in Whittier as it crosses High, so motorists seem to be paying less attention to the pedestrian crossings as they traverse Whittier or go northbound or southbound on High Street.

"It's not a typical street layout for an intersection," he said.

There was minimal cost implement the LPI system; it required a few signs and some labor analyzing traffic data and changes in signalization, Stargell said.

Other LPIs are at North High Street and Second Avenue in the Short North and East Broad Street and Cardinal Park Drive on the Far East Side.

John Blakely, co -owner of Daily Growler located on High Street in the Brewery District, said he gets a lot of local foot traffic from residents in the area, so he welcomes upgrades to the High-Whittier intersection.

"Anything that improves conditions for pedestrians is a good thing," Blakely said. "If it cuts down on accidents and improves safety we're all for it."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary