76,000 Pedestrian Deaths

A new report from Transportation for America reveals that over the past 15 years, 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community.

Transportation for America contends that these deaths are preventable, and that the central cause of the accidents is poor street design.

"More than 43,000 Americans – including 3,906 children under 16 – have been killed this decade alone. This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down roughly every month, yet it receives nothing like the kind of attention that would surely follow such a disaster.

Children, the elderly, and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in this figure, but people of all ages and all walks of life have been struck down in the simple act of walking."

Full Story: Dangerous By Design



Look both ways before crossing

This statistic is staggering, if accurate.

Related to this topic is the saying "look both ways before you cross."
It is a valuable lesson.

There is an immigrant ethnic group here that may not have taught this saying to their children as there have been a few occasions where I have seen their young children run into the street without looking to see if there were cars coming. Tragically, one of their daughters was killed on a back road here while on foot or bike, although I am not sure what happened. If everyone looked both ways first, at least some deaths would be reduced.

Street and traffic design also have to be factored in, and they often are put off too long because of lack of project funding. Pedestrian safety needs to be prioritized moreso than it has been previously.

Our Street Signaling and Bus stop Placement are Outmoded

This is truly saddening. I know that recently South Florida, where I live, was voted as the 4th-worse place for pedestrians, and it's also true for cyclists.

One of the challenges that I face as a non-motorist is crossing large thoroughfares to catch a connecting bus. In my area, the bus stops are not placed close enough to crosswalks; however, if one were to walk to the crosswalks where some experts claim it's safer (though I completely disagree with that sentiment), one would definitely miss her connecting bus because it takes too long to wait for the lights and to even walk to it and then align oneself with the crosswalk before crossing, particularly if one is having to navigate two three-lane roads in opposite directions. It's disastrous.

Also, the traffic signals are also to blame. When the "walk" sign is ignited, the turn lanes tend to activate at the same time, so though 'straight-ahead' traffic stops on the red, the turn lanes have the "green" at the same time with the walk lanes. It's completely ridiculous. I've been writing my local MPO about this for the past year to no avail, and with federal, state and local dollars drying up quickly, I don't see this being fixed anytime soon.

Yes, funding needs to be prioritized

Yes, it comes down to prioritizing these intersections and funding their improvements. In my state, municipalities have to apply to the state to have their projects approved and possibly funded. Many municipal projects are not chosen for funding and therefore the municipality is left with funding it. If they don't find or have the funds, the improvements aren't made.

I was told by our state department of transportation that "communities have to fight" to get their projects prioritized for consideration by the department.

When looking doesn't help

While I agree with the idea that one should always look before crossing, I reject the notion that (1) it applies only to pedestrians and (2) that somehow only immigrants need to learn it.

Pedestrians have the right of way.

That means that when you see a pedestrian considering whether to step into the street, the motorist, bus, and cyclist MUST stop and allow the pedestrian to cross.

In my San Joaquin Valley city, I regularly stop for pedestrians, but impatient motorists will pull out from behind and hit the gas, often missing the pedestrian by inches, sometimes hitting and killing the unfortunate citizen.

Yesterday a fellow did this in the lane next to me (traveling over 25, when I was stopped, which is wholly illegal) and had the additional temerity to HONK at the pedestrian, as if the ped had somehow done something wrong.

Clarification re people looking both ways

I wasn't stating that only immigrants needed to learn practices such as "look both ways before you cross the street." Email dialogue can be misunderstood. I was simply saying that in my community, I have observed that several children of this particular recent immigrant population do not seem to have awareness that they should look before entering a street, as there have been several occasions where I have seen them run from their homes right into the street in front of moving cars. Of course, there are plenty of long time non-recent immigrant residents whose children also don't look.

Overall, we have to make sure that we are educating our children properly about rules of being a pedestrian. Children were discussed in the article, that is why I mentioned them.

Yes, there are plenty of irresponsible drivers on the road who don't stop for pedestrians and drive illegally. Sorry to hear that they live among you in the valley.

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