Akin Road accident highlights concerns
"Look both ways before you cross the street."
It's a message parents start teaching children at an early age, one that is meant to keep people safe. And it's one at least one Farmington youth will likely never forget.
Monday evening, just after 6 p.m., Farmington fire/rescue, police and ALF Ambulance paramedics were called to Akin Road, just south of 208th Street, to respond to a pedestrian/vehicle accident.
The pedestrian, a juvenile boy, had apparently been at the Farmington Middle School West fields for youth football practice. He was crossing Akin Road from the west to the east when he stepped out in front of an oncoming vehicle. Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist said the child apparently did not look both ways before attempting to cross the road, and was crossing 150 to 200 feet south of the designated crosswalk.
The child was lucky -- he came out of the accident with a broken leg. But Lindquist is looking for a way to make sure such accidents do not happen again.
But that could be difficult.
Part of the problem Monday was that there were a number of vehicles parked on both the northbound and southbound shoulders of Akin Road. Still more were parked along 208th Street.
The area has long been congested in the evenings, particularly when youth sports practices are going on. Though the middle school provides parking lots on the east side of the fields, many parents choose not to use the lots and park closer to the fields their child is playing on.
Parking is allowed on the shoulders of Akin Road, but the posted speed limit is 50 miles per hour. The only area in either direction where parking is not allowed is in the right turn lane for 208th Street, off of northbound Akin Road.
Lindquist could recommend that Akin Road near that section be made a no-parking zone. That could solve the problem of people parking on the shoulder. But that could lead to other problems, like people parking on the streets of the neighborhood just to the north of the middle school campus.
Ban parking on those streets, Lindquist said, would also prohibit the residents of the area from having guests park in front of their homes.
"At that point, all I've done is moved the problem, I haven't fixed it," he said. "It's just not that simple."
One thing Lindquist knows would help the situation is more parents using the parking lots at the middle school and walked to the fields -- no matter if their child is playing on the one closest to or farthest from the lot.
But Akin Road is not the only place where evening parking is a problem. Officers see it frequently, right out the windows of the police department, where people park along the shoulders of 195th Street between Pilot Knob Road and Akin Road in order to get to the fields behind Akin Road Elementary School.
"I think there's a possibility of this kind of accident happening just about anywhere," Lindquist said. "The accident last night probably puts more emphasis on the problem, though."
Although there have been complaints about the Akin Road/208th Street intersection and the extra parking that comes during evening youth activities in the past, none have been filed recently. In a way, Lindquist said, residents seem to have accepted it.
But Monday's accident raises concerns. Lindquist plans to meet with school officials and city staff to see if there is a solution that could help to reduce the chance of another such accident in the future.
One thing is certain, though.
"It is incumbent for every person to look both ways when crossing any street," Lindquist said. "Especially in a situation like last night, where (vehicles are) parked nose to tail. You're not going to give drivers a lot of time to stop."