Pedestrian safety: readers have their say
Redesign the system
Re: “Driver’s Report Card signs coming into Seattle will send the correct message: It’s an intersection, not the Daytona 500” [March 29, Opinion]:
I’m glad the Seattle Department of Transportation is trying something new to improve the safety of people walking and riding. But the editorial doesn’t mention that, by federal law, SDOT had to spend that Washington Traffic Safety Commission grant on education, not infrastructure.
For decades, we have subsidized driving. Even in Seattle, we don’t have walking streets. We have few physical diversions to slow traffic. Replacing car or parking lanes with bus or bike lanes or wider sidewalks is a long and controversial process, despite clear safety and environmental benefits. When a street is closed for even a day, drivers receive weeks of warning. Is it any wonder that after telling people in cars they are the highest priority, so few give in to people walking?
Meanwhile, people who can’t drive, like me and many other people with disabilities, put up with slow, inconvenient, and even inaccessible systems. Public transit trips can take three times as long. Sidewalks are often closed with long, short-term detours. Elevators and escalators at transit stations are regularly out of order.
This new campaign may work, but until we redesign our system for everyone, education will be insufficient.
“Look Before You Cross”
The first step to avoiding accidents is to train pedestrians.
I try never to drive in Seattle, especially downtown, because people walk down the street and often go out into the street without looking. However, whatever the circumstances, the responsibility for the accident always rests with the driver. A car traveling at 20 mph (5 miles below the speed limit) takes 19 feet to stop, so if a pedestrian is walking in front of said vehicle, hitting them may be unavoidable.
Look before crossing, use crosswalks and do not jaywalk.
Marilyn Fletcher, Renton
Put your phones away
The best and easiest way to improve pedestrian safety is for pedestrians to put their phones away and pay attention to what is going on around them.
I’ve personally seen phone-impaired people fall into the United States Courthouse fountain; standing unconscious in a faulty elevator; walking through a high pressure fence; not to mention the many people who step out into the street into oncoming traffic without looking up from their devices.
Making our streets safer isn’t just the responsibility of drivers or the Seattle Department of Transportation.
How to Improve Pedestrian Safety: Fix Sidewalks and Fill Potholes!
A Capitol Hill pedestrian must not only navigate broken sidewalks, but, after reaching the crumbling sidewalk, must watch for oncoming cars as well as potholes in the street in order to reach the sidewalk in ruin on the other side.
Wheels on sidewalks
I do not drive; I walk or take the bus.
My difficult (OK, sometimes scary) experiences on the sidewalks of Seattle: cyclists going in and out among pedestrians; scooters or skateboarders whipping pedestrians.
To this day, I listen to the words my parents, as well as teachers, stuck in my head: “Look both ways before crossing a street.”
These seven words saved my cat on a sunny summer day in Kent as I was about to cross the pedestrian crossing on some busy streets. A driver, ignoring the crosswalk sign, took the green light to turn right just as I was about to step off the sidewalk onto East James Street.
Thank God I heeded those words that I was taught: “Look both ways before crossing a street,” otherwise I would be crippled or dead.
Jerry Fretts, Olympia