“Ooh — careful!” I gestured to James McDuffie, a safety ambassador for the Expo Line, as a bicyclist came riding up quickly behind him on the sidewalk.
McDuffie shook his head as the 50-something year old gentleman passed between us without slowing down. Together, we watched him shoot out from one sidewalk, cross diagonally through the intersection (and train tracks) at Flower and 23rd Sts., and hop up onto the sidewalk on the other side.
“He comes through [here] every day,” said McDuffie.
And every day, the man rides the sidewalk along Flower St. and heads diagonally across the intersection without much regard for the light. McDuffie says he hasn’t been able to get the man to heed any of his requests to slow down or wait for the light.
“Even the Sheriff told him to wait once,” said McDuffie, apparently to no avail.
Bicyclists’ tendency to disobey traffic regulations are the biggest safety concern, says McDuffie. As safety ambassador, part of his job is to help educate the public about how to navigate the intersections where the Expo Line passes through. But because of their speed and positioning in the road, he can’t reach out to cyclists as easily as he can pedestrians. He had had to watch helplessly as a cyclist heading eastbound on 23rd St. turned southward onto Flower St. without looking and was hit by a car just a few days prior.
“There are a lot of close calls with bicyclists,” he said.
Not that pedestrians are particularly receptive to his requests to obey traffic regulations, even when it is in their best interests.
“Hey, sir! Don’t stand on the track!” McDuffie called out to a young man who had ignored the yellow and black “Wait Here” signs painted on the sidewalk and stepped out into the middle of the tracks.
Hearing McDuffie, the youth slowly backed his way to the sidewalk without looking at us. And then appeared confused when the light changed but the white “walk” sign didn’t appear.
“You can go now,” McDuffie suggested, encouraging him to push the pedestrian crossing button next time.
Beyond education, safety ambassadors must keep track of how people are using the intersection. The data he provides to Metro is used to improve safety signage and infrastructure at crossings.
He’s seen some of his suggestions materialize in the form of larger and more visible signage at crossings.
But other things remain unaddressed. Read more…