Blaming the Pedestrian, Again

Despite the growing national attention to the dangers posed by
distracted driving, full accountability for drivers who kill or maim
pedestrians while fiddling with electronic devices is likely a long way
off. As today’s post from Streetsblog Network member Sustainable Savannah notes, law enforcement officials too often seem to see things from the perspective of the person behind the windshield:

dont-walk_1.jpgPhoto: hebedesign via Flickr

While researching a recent pedestrian death in Savannah, I ran across this television news report,
which I think deserves to be examined on its own. If I’m hearing him
correctly, this is the message delivered by a Savannah Chatham
Metropolitan Police officer:

"Someone could be looking down at their cellphone. Next
thing they know they look up and there’s a kid in the road or a person
in the road where they are not supposed to be at. And they don’t have
time to stop. And like I said, pedestrians will lose that battle every
time."

Perhaps this short comment from the officer was taken from a longer
segment in which he railed against distracted driving. I hope that’s
the case and if so, I commend him for it. But if not, it suggests a
terribly casual attitude toward an awfully dangerous practice.

Sustainable Savannah links to Tom Vanderbilt’s recent excellent essay on Slate, "In Defense of Jaywalking."
Read it if you haven’t already. It is a concise and well-researched
examination of the biases against pedestrians — biases that are
reflected in media coverage and law enforcement, but most importantly,
in street design.

More from around the network: Transportation for America will be hosting an online discussion December 7 on conservatives and public transportation. Biker Chicks of West Chester decries the push to register bikes in Philadelphia. And Mobilizing the Region talks about how transit operating aid is the best route to job creation.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Win Your Holiday Arguments: Jaywalking

|
(Stealing an idea from Salon, Streetsblog Los Angeles is here to help you win arguments with the beloved Car Culture Warriors in your life this holiday season. We’ll have at least two more parts in this series. – DN) Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on a “jaywalking crackdown” underway in Downtown Los Angeles. Pedestrians […]

To Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities, Focus Enforcement on Cars

|
Today the issue of pedestrian safety has popped up a couple of times on the Streetsblog Network. First, the folks at WalkBike Jersey report that a bill giving pedestrians more protection in the crosswalk has passed the State Assembly and is moving to committee in the Senate: Photo by tomswift46 via Fickr. Under the bill, […]

Warning: Windshield Perspective Hazardous to Your Health

|
Over the past couple of months, we’ve been following a story in Savannah about a crackdown on jaywalking — a crackdown prompted by the death of a tourist who was hit by a car on Oglethorpe Avenue in the city’s historic district. Streetsblog Network member Sustainable Savannah has done a great job of articulating why […]

NoHo Ped Tunnel Construction Underway, To Connect Orange and Red Lines

|
Construction is underway for a new tunnel that will make it easier for riders to transfer between Metro’s Orange and Red Lines. Per Metro’s fact sheet [PDF], the new tunnel, officially the North Hollywood Station Underpass project, is expected to be completed in Spring 2016. Riders are already detouring around the pedestrian-unfriendly construction site barriers. The […]