[tabi] from today's Democrat: "Watch the Walkers"

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 15:45:08 -0500

January 12, 2010

Our Opinion: Watch the walkers
Pedestrians have their rights, too

In a town where the car is king, life can be perilous for pedestrians.
That's probably not news to anyone who has ever walked more than a block
in Tallahassee,
but the "Dangerous by Design" report released at year's end by the
Surface Transportation
Policy Partnership and Transportation for America is certainly
The report gave the Tallahassee area - which includes Gadsden,
Jefferson, Leon and
Wakulla counties - a "pedestrian-danger index" of 109.4. That measure of
the risk
of walking was more than double the national number of 52.1.
Here at the Tallahassee Democrat
, we don't have to look far for anecdotal evidence. A reporter out in
search of a
sandwich once wound up on the hood of a car while trying to use a
crosswalk on Mahan
Drive near the paper.
We talk a good game here in Tallahassee. We say we want neighborhood
schools and
a bustling downtown and a thriving university community and a
Gaines Street and alternatives to fossil-fuel-powered transportation.
But the numbers
in the study as well as first-hand accounts from residents - drivers
yelling at pedestrians,
pedestrians having canes knocked out of their hands by cars, dog-walkers
nearly hit,
children endangered even in school zones - say otherwise.
We need wide and well-designed sidewalks, a fact emphasized by County
Chairman Bob Rackleff, who called a lack of sidewalks a major impediment
to having
people use mass transit.
We need clear signals and well-marked pedestrian crosswalks (in Monday's
news story
on the safety report, Mr. Rackleff pointed to the intersection of
Magnolia Drive
and Apalachee Parkway as the ultimate challenge for travelers on foot).
But what we really need is more awareness from drivers.
Ask yourself:
When you're watching traffic and getting ready to turn right on red, do
you also
look to your
right, in the crosswalk, before you pull out?
Do you know the laws of Florida, about when a pedestrian has the
right-of-way? Do
you know how much room to give a pedestrian who is forced to walk at the
side of
the road when there is no sidewalk? As traffic is piling up behind you,
do you find
yourself resenting the fellow who is legally crossing the street in
front of you?
Take a moment to consider what sort of community you want this to be.
Pause an extra
second to look both ways. Give those with disabilities an extra-wide
berth. Think.
It will be worth it if you can save a life and make this a better place
to live.

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  • » [tabi] from today's Democrat: "Watch the Walkers" - Chip Orange