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Walk signals are meant to make walking safer by sending cars and pedestrians ahead at different times. That means different types of road users receive different sets of information and instructions.
To make streets truly pedestrian-friendly, Benjamin Ross argues, it may be time to rethink that strategy.
"The underlying principle," he says, is that "negotiating the use of shared space makes roads safer."
Ross argues for letting drivers and pedestrians traveling the same direction go at the same time. That kind of system would treat various modes of transportation equally, he says, whereas the timer common to walk signals unfairly pushes pedestrians off the road in favor of drivers.
"Restricting the right to cross the street is intrinsically dangerous," Ross cautions: It teaches users of the road that they have to look out to drivers, but drivers don't have to look out for them.
This piece is part of a three-part series at Greater Greater Washington.