Friday, March 11, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week the city of Glendale here in the LA region has been making a lot of effort to improve safety for pedestrians. Not only did Police crack down on drivers who refuse to stop for pedestrians, there was a Crack-down hits distracted drivers. And Glendale wasn't the only place working on the distracted driving issue. Here in Ventura the CHP warns of dangers of inattentive driving. Let's hope other cities in the area follow their example (the cracking down, that is, not the distracted driving).

But some cities prefer to focus their attention on the pedestrians, not the drivers, who cause safety problems. While I understand the motivation, I don't like enforcement efforts that imply the roadway is only a place for vehicles. One other reason these sorts of enforcement efforts aren't a good idea? A new study shows that Preventing jaywalking costly for cities.
But it isn't vehicles that are causing all the problems this week. In New York, 6 Out of 6 Local Pedestrians Agree: The PPW Bike Lane Stinks, while across the world in Australia Pedestrians call for cycle ban . While they're often grouped together, it's important to remember that pedestrians and bikes have very different safety and infrastructure needs.

Of course, so do pedestrians and vehicles--and sometimes improving things for one of those modes can have some scary effects for the other, as in the State DOT “Improvements” Imperil Pedestrians in Florida. Happily, here in California we're spending our money on more pedestrian-oriented improvements, like the Money coming to Imperial Beach aimed at more walkable streets, or the San Francisco Task Force Begins Meeting to Develop Pedestrian Action Plan.

And it's a good thing, too, because the week continues to bring pedestrian deaths far and wide. Here in the Southern California region there was a Person struck, killed by Amtrak train near Union Station, and
CHP officials arrest woman for fatal hit and run . Deaths like these are tragic, and continue to haunt surviving family members for years, like this LA Man seeks justice for twin brother killed by car in 1959.
Meanwhile, new studies continue to improve our understanding of the dangers that pedestrians face. One, out of Israel, shows that Elderly drivers more hazardous for pedestrians. In Canada, however, they're more worried about those pedestrian countdown timers encouraging drivers to speed through almost-red lights, and suggest that Pedestrian Timers Not Suitable for Red Light Camera Intersections. You know it's tough out there when even supposed pedestrian safety improvements have unintended consequences on pedestrian safety...

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