Why We Cannot Ticket Cars Enough to Stop Pedestrian Deaths
I make no excuses for fast-driving, red-light-running, I-yield-to-no-one-drivers. I do not minimize the pain caused by aggressive and distracted operators of cars, trucks, SUVs, or MUNI buses. But folks! We have to move beyond the eco-politics paradigm where pedestrians are always good, bicyclists okay, and motor vehicles are evil, if we are going to decrease the number of traffic injuries.
The news media unhelpfully hypes the vision of vehicular berserkers. For example, Sunday’s Chronicle lamented the lack of outrage against one motorist who “struck and killed a pedestrian.” Are we sure that the driver was at fault in that accident? Or, maybe there is a reason why there is no outrage directed that particular person?
Most every day I both walk and drive places. I obey every law when I‘m behind the wheel. But, I admit that I routinely jaywalk in mid-intersections, cross against the “Don’t Walk”, and start crossing early against the red.
At the same time, I cannot drive from home in San Francisco’s Noe Valley district for 15 minutes without having to take action to avoid a collision with a bicycle rider or pedestrian who is violating a traffic law. Ever.
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Pedestrians regularly cross against red lights when they see a bus coming or jump out in front of right-turning cars because they have only 5 seconds left on the Don’t Walk timer. Bicyclists split lanes on the right and surge straight in front of right-hand-signaling and turning cars. Bicyclists also frequently run stop signs, turn left and right from weird lanes, ride against traffic for a few hundred feet, and blow red lights.