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The Problem with Pedestrians


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On the one hand, I applaud traffic engineers’ efforts to assist and create pedestrian safety. Pedestrian crossings at many busy intersections have electronic buttons to push to change signals for safe crossings; large, marked crosswalks; placement of crosswalks at “logical” spots, where highly visible streets and roads intersect each other, usually at 90 degrees; flashing lights and signals to aid pedestrians with time elements; and usually clear lines of sight for pedestrians and motorists.

On the other hand, it seems to me that common sense should be the rule for pedestrians when crossing in crosswalks other than at signalized crossings – not just a California law requiring that the motorist notice a difficult-to-see pedestrian crossing the roadway where there are no signals or markings other than a white painted crosswalk. Most motorists I know do not speed, and they try to avoid pedestrians, negotiate other crazy drivers, and, overall, try to get from Point A to Point B as safely as possible.

I believe the police stings that target drivers who may violate the pedestrian-crossing law do not take into consideration all of the variables that drivers must face: dangerous tailgaters, glare, weather, size of pedestrian, cars ahead of the driver making turns, and the difficulty in seeing a single pedestrian coming from an angle that could be blocked by another vehicle.

Reducing the number of dangerous variables is the reason why there are so many engineering implements at signalized pedestrian crossings and the lack of these same implements is dangerous for all. Simply, a large lighted signal can be seen for miles; but, a tiny pedestrian crossing in the middle of a road can be easily missed.

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