A Tacoma grandmother is taking traffic control into her own hands, operating as a vigilante crossing guard on a street near an elementary school.
Liza Morado tells KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank Show there is a designated crosswalk to reach the school, but many parents don’t use it because it would mean some extra walking.
“The traffic light there is not where a number of parents want to cross because they have to walk another block up and another block back and it makes their trip dropping their children off to school a lot longer.”
After witnessing parents and kids scrambling across the roadway at the non-designated spot, she decided someone needed to moderate.
“They cross the street with babies on their hip, and babies in stollers. One blind guy with his two children crossed here,” says Morado. “It was disturbing to me to see how the traffic – they can be out in the street, and the traffic won’t stop. I just wanted to be a little guardian angel.”
Morado waves her hands and uses a colorful ribbon to get drivers’ attention. She says she looks them in the eyes, makes sure they see her, and then gives the pedestrians the OK to cross.
But Morado’s efforts have not been applauded by everyone. The principal at Lowell Elementary called her into his office and told her she was suspended from school grounds.
She had been collecting signatures to get a crosswalk installed. So far, 96 people have signed. Morado is keeping her distance from the school at this point, but says school and city officials have been trying to educate parents on the appropriate place to cross.
“I talked to the Tacoma Police Department, who finally came out and started with their radar guns and passing out tickets. They did a huge thing, because they were there and they saw all these parents crossing. They did the education part because they went down and said, ‘You’ve got to cross at the designated crosswalk.'”
“At this point I’ve drawn as much attention to this problem as I possibly can,” says Morado.
Even though she’s stepping back for now, she still thinks the city needs to consider the position of the 96 people that signed her petition and consider putting in a crosswalk.
According to state traffic law RCW 46.61.050, pedestrians must obey traffic signals and traffic control devices unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer.
But state law RCW 46.61.235 says vehicles shall stop at intersections to allow pedestrians and bicycles to cross the road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.