A Modest Proposal for Protecting L.A.'s Pedestrians

Commentator D.J. Waldie laments the stunning health hazards for L.A.'s pedestrians, and proposes five solutions to make the city safer for those on foot.
January 1, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Los Angeles has a much higher than average pedestrian fatality rate, according to a University of Michigan study [PDF], and an epidemic of hit-and-run collisions, as a recent LA Weekly exposé unveiled. As the city puts "more walkers and more vehicles into closer proximity" through increased density, and seeks to increase the amount of non-vehicular trips, Waldie argues that it's time for the city to take steps to improve pedestrian safety. His solutions include: using data to determine the most dangerous places for pedestrians, vigorously prosecuting hit-and-run drivers, investing more in pedestrian infrastructure, making pedestrian safety a more central focus of community safety, and improving crosswalks and intersection signaling and lighting.

"But real safety for pedestrians will have to come from drivers themselves," he concludes. "There is a callousness built into the design of modern vehicles - so perfectly do they respond to every desire in traffic-jammed Los Angeles except the desire for freedom. It's a terrible contradiction for drivers in L.A. to have everything a car can give except mobility."

"I can sometimes see the frustration in a driver's face (despite my weak eyes) when he swings into an intersection, aiming his comfortable weapon where I walk. I wonder if he sees me at all."

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Published on Friday, December 28, 2012 in KCET
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