Minot woman thankful for new adaptive crosswalks

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Crosswalks are something that many people use to see when to walk — and now at some intersections, you can hear when to walk.

Crosswalks help keep people safe at busy intersections, but for one Minot resident, it changed her life.

Jennifer Folven is visually impaired.

She can see, but she needs help getting around.

“I use my cane when I’m around a lot of people,” said Folven. “And then, like a big crowd of people, I use natural timing when I use it. And then I use it for curbs.”

Folven uses her smartphone to help her get around but after getting lost, she wanted an easier way. She wanted to know if the City of Minot could get the crosswalks that “talk to you” near her apartment.

Audible Pedestrian Signals at crosswalks have signals that you can see AND hear to let you know when to walk.

This (in the video above) is the crosswalk that first posed a challenge for Folven. But now at the click of a button, she’s been able to cross those hurdles.

Fast forward a couple of months later, and there at 16th and 31st is an adaptive crosswalk.

Scott Burlingame is the Executive Director of Independence, Inc., which is an organization that advocates for people with disabilities.

Burlingame says that having these crosswalks is a big deal.

“It makes Minot a more welcoming community,” said Burlingame. “It makes it more accepting for people with all types of disabilities. So just being able to really see that the infrastructure is being created to truly make our community inclusive shows a lot about the values of our community.”

He says making things more accessible improves life for everyone.

“Maybe you’re at this crosswalk someday and you don’t have a vision impairment but you hear it saying that it’s time to go, indicating it’s time to go, you’ll benefit from it as well,” said Burlingame.

While having these crosswalks is a step in the right direction, Burlingame says there is still room for improvement.

“When we get snow, the quicker we can get the snow off the sidewalks, the more accessible and walkable our communities can be,” said Burlingame. “And that just makes it again, more welcome for everybody.”

Folven also thinks there is still work to be done.

“I would like them to the same thing over by Hobby Lobby,” said Folven. “And I’d like them to put more sidewalks in Minot.”

Next time you’re at the intersection of 16th and 31st, look for the button and listen for the audio signals.

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