Distracted Pedestrians Are Not the Same As Distracted Drivers

Comments

1
Good Afternoon Charles,

Full disclosure, I haven't read Brodeur's article, I don't possess an automobile and I have the dubious distinction of being hit by a car 2X. The first ages ago at 15 y/o while on a bike w/o a helmet and coming out of an alley. I was injured (stitches in my scalp) but was OK. I held myself accountable. The second time relatively recently (5 years ago) as a pedestrian while in a crosswalk as the 'walk' sign was on in my direction. The elderly woman driver merely grazed me while turning left. I fell down but was unhurt. She was held accountable. She also didn't stop. I presume she didn't see me.

My understanding of the law is that drivers are ALWAYS held accountable if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a moving vehicle no matter what. I get that but there are foolish pedestrians and cyclists. We've all seen them. However, if at the end of the day Brodeur is saying BOTH should be wiser, she has a point. You have one as well. However, I disagree with your very last statement.

No, pedestrians and cyclists to a different degree should not be allowed to do anything especially because they AREN'T driving. I frown on pedestrians incessantly looking at their hand-held device and not 'looking both ways' when crossing a street especially when not in a cross walk. Some cyclists are crazy too zipping in and out of pedestrian AND car traffic like acrobats. And looking at one's hand-held device while driving should be outlawed. Sure drivers, walkers & cyclists are different. And all want some measure of 'belonging' in a city (although I don't think they are thinking about that as they are driving, walking or cycling). They just want to get to their destination safely.
2
This is classist BS to assume everyone has the ability to a downtown apartment with a walkscore of 96.

People don't drive for fun in the city, no need to purposely torture them to make it worse - it already sucks. People do it out of necessity to get to jobs.
3
Amortizing my fuel, insurance, parking and maintenance costs for work-commuting by car, it equates with bus fare: $7.25 per day. The bus requires walking 2.1 miles per round trip and takes 2.1 hours. Car transit requires essentially no walking and takes 1/2 the time. In current conditions, I'm resistant to ceding my dryness and my time--though I concur with all you said here (and have said) in support of public transportation.
4
Let's educate drivers, yeah that'll work. Our society really only responds well to one type of incentive and it's financial. Start requiring an advanced driving course for city drivers. Increase the penalties for reckless driving. Toll every single street. Ideas like these will change behavior.
5
The same garbage arguments are espoused in New York City, even after a spate of collisions in which pedestrians were killed while walking on the sidewalk. Automobiles routinely drive in excess of the speed limit, fail to obey traffic signals, and fail to yield to pedestrians, and yet civil leaders in Albany and New York City fail to rein-in drivers. Indeed, the state legislature precluded the city from installing traffic cameras, outside school zones. Moreover, the NYPD fails to enforce traffic laws. In fact, the NYPD recently created a 550 person anti-terrorism unit, whose stated role includes policing First Amendment-protected protests, while at the same time the NYPD collision squad only has 25 people. This notwithstanding the fact that last year over 130 people were killed by reckless drivers, while none were killed by terrorists.
6
@1, the problem is that time and time again, bad drivers are not held accountable (read: prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law) when they hit pedestrians and cyclists. The acronym "SMIDSY" (sorry, mate, I didn't see you) refers to the get-out-of-jail-free card such a terrible driver typically uses.
7
Sure, pedestrians should just keep their heads perpetually in the clouds - no need whatsoever to develop even a modicum of situational awareness in an environment filled with potentially dangerous objects, regardless of whether they're moving or stationary. So, I guess we can all agree with this position and simply trust that Natural Selection will weed out the more egregiously inattentive among us.
8
Oops. I just released a bunch of lions in the city. Sorry about that. Everyone should watch where they're going or they might die.
9
Nice try, Charles. The Motorheads of Seattle have ling demonized bicyclists, pedestrians were the natural next step. Fukkum.
10
Wonderful post. I'm in total agreement. As a side note, I was hit in a crosswalk last week by a car and the police gave me the ticket because I was in front of the driver and the police felt that I should not have been there. The quote from the police officer was "pedestrian right of way in crosswalks is a widely held misconception" Bravo SPD!
11
The use of a vehicle, any vehicle, including a bicycle, should be limited in a city. The city should be primarily for walking.
12
You can argue all day that drivers are irresponsible assholes and idiots and you may be right. But if you're a pedestrian and want to stay alive. Pay fucking attention to the irresponsible assholes and idiots around you. No one wants to read "he was in the right" on your tombstone.
13
From http://www.seattle.gov/DPD/cityplanning/… and http://www.seattle.gov/economicdevelopme…, we can see that while we added 56,503 jobs in the city from 2010-2012, we've only added 4,337 housing units during that same time frame. That's displacement right there - that's how stark our housing shortage is.

I don't care about your fee-fees, as Dan would say. I don't care that tall buildings make you feel insignificant, or that new buildings replacing old buildings make you feel like you're aging. I care about the carbon generated by those who are forced to live in car-scarred suburbs; those who are displaced from services they need. Suck up your feelings and stop restricting development that would happen if the government would allow them.
14
How about we all pay attention to what we're doing and where we're going. Time and time again, I see pedestrians walk into the street without even looking at where they're going. No looking left or right, they just walk into the street like they're not made of delicate flesh and blood. And most people have their eyes on their screens. Engage with the world. Pay attention to people who can hit you or that you might hit. Use your goddamn eyeballs to look at the world and stop thinking that everyone else bows to you.
15
All of us should stop texting whenever we are moving.
Yes.

As for pedestrians, we must enjoy the luxury of all manner of distractions: daydreaming, listening to music, having conversations, kissing, checking Facebook updates.
No.
16
Broduer's job, since she crossed the picket line 15 years ago, has been to be a mouthpiece for Frank Blethen's world view, veiled very thinly as a Seattle Subaru liberal. Never explain. Never apologize. Right Nicole?
17
I'm glad that you've responded to yet another asinine auto-centric Seattle Times rant. However..

First of all, you've misspelled Jim Curtin's name.
Second, he is one of the good people at SDOT. Do not demonize him. He did the NE 75th road diet, for example: http://www.ravennablog.com/meet-your-new…

This road diet removed parking completely, and used lane widths that SDOT *still* refuses to use on other projects. A 9.5ft turn lane, and a 10.5ft travel lane on a route with buses. I have such a hard time getting SDOT to use less than 12ft lanes on other projects (although I'm told they're maybe standardizing on 11ft lanes now).

Spend a few minutes talking with Jim about road safety, and he'll make it clear that drivers are the number one problem.
18
I'm guessing you flunked physics in school, Charles. If someone steps out into traffic (while checking Facebook on their phone) in front of a car that can't stop in time, the pedestrian isn't a victim, he's a dead moron. I've lost track of the number of other pedestrians I've had to grab to keep them from wandering into traffic because they're too busy staring at a screen.
19
Drivers are already required by law to drive slowly and attentively enough to avoid other lawful road users, which includes people who are blind or visually limited, people who are short, people who move slowly due to age or infirmity, and people wearing ordinary street clothing instead of hi-viz construction gear.

"No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
...
The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic ..."

If drivers simply obeyed this existing legal requirement, most distracted pedestrians really wouldn't be an issue. But they don't.

Most drivers consider the speed limit a minimum expectation, not a maximum legal speed that should be reduced in less-than-perfect conditions.

Very few drivers truly stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks until those pedestrians are at least one full lane beyond the driver's side of the street.

The Basic Rule has been on the books for more than 50 years, but is almost never enforced other than as an add-on citation after a collision. SPD used to conduct rigorous crosswalk enforcement for drivers, but that seems to be a thing of the quaint old small-town past.
20
Every once in a while, Mudede nails it. In terms of shaming dangerous, anti-social behavior, the case for treating driving like smoking is much stronger than the case for treating smoking like smoking.
21
I like the analogy where there are a bunch of kids in shop class using different wood tools. Does the teacher say: "Everybody be careful, regardless of whether you're operating a screwdriver, a hammer, or a table saw." No, they say "Be careful with the screwdriver, be a little more careful with the hammer, and be veeerrry careful with the table saw."

Seems like people are confused about the world "should". Should pedestrians be careful? Yes, practically speaking, they should be careful so they don't get run over. Should drivers be careful. Yes, but for two reasons: 1) So they don't get hit by another car and 2) So they don't break their *moral obligation* to not run over other people with the dangerous machine they've been trusted to operate. I realize that citing things like moral obligations is completely out of style, but just thought I'd throw it out there.
22
@10, your post concerns me. Can we have more details? When/where did it happen? Who was the officer? Can you post a picture of the ticket?

https://twitter.com/SeattlePD/status/689…
23
Thank you for writing about the continued effort to blame victims that spans back to the invention of term "jaywalker" in the early nineteen hundreds.

As a lawyer who represents pedestrians and bicyclists I wish "lark" were correct that "drivers are ALWAYS held accountable if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a moving vehicle no matter what." That is simply not the law in the US. Injured people have to prove that a driver was negligent in causing a collision. Too often pedestrians and bicyclists lose their memory in a crash and, without a witness, they may lose their claim as well.

We need a presumption of civil liability for drivers who collide with pedestrians and bicyclists. This would provide the motivation that drivers need to pay attention and avoid collisions. Drivers are the ones with the most power to prevent collisions and the most protection in the event of a collision. The law should favor the vulnerable so that our streets can be safer for everyone.

If this (and other ideas for pedestrian and bicyclists safety interest you, consider attending Cascade Bicycle Club's Big Ideas Festival on Saturday, January 23, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. It's at Magnuson Park, 7787 62nd NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

RSVP here:
http://action.cascade.org/p/salsa/event/…
24
@6 - drivers have the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card: their vehicles. There is no reason for a driver to stop if they have struck a pedestrian, they will never be caught. They can, and do, just drive away.
25
@22 - I'm betting that there's a significant other side to the story.
26
if liberal judges and liberal juries wouldnt go so easy on car-driving criminals and if we had more police enforcing speed limits and other traffic laws, it would be safer to walk and bike around the city.

in the meantime, walker beware, and if you walk into traffic and get hit and killed while facebooking on your phone, it's just Darwin in action.
27
Charles, if I made arrangements to have a 2016 hybrid Cadillac Escalade or Land Rover delivered to as a gift, would you graciously accept it?
28
#27- If he don't want it I will take the Escalade please. Matte black with a gold grill and gold hunnit spokes. Thank you for your generous offer!
29
#AllTextersMatter
30
Drivers do not have a get out of jail free card; compare the number of moving automobile citations with the number of citations issued to bicyclists and pedestrians. If you are on a bicycle with a helmet and dark glasses you can't even be identified by a camera.

Having said that, though, I will acknowledge the automobiles limited days in the dense urban area, but along with that will go the large urban retailers, especially grocery stores. Can you imagine carrying a weeks worth of groceries home on foot or even in a bus. The future city will be for singles or couples, certainly not for families of any size.
31
@27) If Charles bows out, I'll accept it!
32
@27) Now I know what Jesus was up against when he was in that desert for 40 days and nights.
33
I can confirm that sometimes cyclists and pedestrians are right nitwits. As a cyclist myself, I'm embarrassed every time I see some yahoo on a bike, plus earbuds and minus helmet, breeze through a stop sign or red light. And when my hometown installed separated bike lanes (in which the bike lane lies between the parking lane and the curb), I constantly had to keep my head on a swivel to avoid hitting pedestrians who, not thinking of the bike lane as a traffic lane, don't even look before stepping out. I've nearly been doored more times than I care to recount; I once had to brake sharply to avoid running over two women who, despite stepping in front of me at about ten feet's distance, remained entirely unaware of my presence even after I passed them; and once I had to shout "SIR, THIS IS A LANE OF TRAFFIC" at a man standing squarely in the lane, facing away from oncoming bikes and bent at the waist, pouring his coffee down a sewer grate.
Pedestrians and cyclists are fucking stupid sometimes, just like drivers.
34
Why would you want to risk your life on the competency of an unknown stranger? People are idiots, and almost all of them can make it through a driving test.

That said, it's also dumb to assume that even the best, most competent drivers have complete visibility and a thorough knowledge of everything around them. One case in point, modern cars require more sturdy A pillars (which connect the roof to the body of the car in the front) than in the past, and those pillars create a blind spot. That blind spot is particularly hazardous when the driver is turning left, it can completely block a pedestrian crossing the same street from view for several seconds.
35
I typically bus to work and walk home. In the past seven years, work changes have increased the distance from two to three to just recently four miles, all on different routes. The first two routes involved a lot of cars. The current walk includes the section of the Burke-Gilman between the Fremont Bridge and the U-District. Of course the car dangers are more severe, but generally, drivers seem surprised and apologetic when I let them know it's my right-of-way (with a wave, a shout, or even a slap on their hood). This new walk involves far more bikes than cars and, wow! There are some asshole cyclists out there! Just tonight I watched a cyclist dicing through joggers/walkers way too fast, yelling "out of the way!" all-too ironically within view of the "bikers yield to peds" sign. I know most cyclists are conscientious, but the asshole minority? No apologies, all entitlement. Kudos to you bikers who ride with respect and call out your counterparts who don't.
36
@35:

This is where a good, sturdy cane or umbrella can come in really, really handy...
37
@30:
Can you imagine carrying a weeks worth of groceries home on foot or even in a bus.
Living downtown without a car in a major city, I don't need to imagine it; I do it all the time. You can fit a lot into a granny cart. If it's too heavy to hoist onto a bus — well, those lifts aren't just for wheelchairs.
38
Charles,
Besides a socialist revolution, do you have any ideas besides your preposterously unachievable "Let's get rid of cars"?
Do you know what car sales were last year? I don't think cars are going to go away very soon. So man-up and offer some practical ideas.
39
@36, umbrella? Never. Though the cane sounds delightful and somewhat dignified. Or just a quick shove...
40
Points well taken, but it still does not excuse a stupid person who has their head buried in their phone while crossing the street. They need to take a little bit of responsibility as well.
41
Our country is full of laws passed by governments that protect the vulnerable.
1. Banks are prevented from suing individuals who file bankruptcy
2. Handicapped are given prime parking spaces
3. Vulnerable children are given special protection by the courts until age 16 or 18
4. Elder abuse laws protect seniors from fraud

And yet, pedestrians and bicyclists must cede the right of way to motor vehicles in every case. Why don't we as a society provide the vulnerable road user the same protection? Because the motor vehicle lobby has ingrained in our culture that the car and truck must get there fast. That's what to tool was designed to do so that's what must be allowed. Well it's time to change.
42
@41
Check your facts.
43
Jesus, why is the social contract that you always fallback on is "this one group has all the responsibility" and "this other group has no responsibility". Bullshit. People living in a city always have responsibility to others living in a city. Drivers of cars have more responsibility because of the points you made, but walkers still have responsibility to not walk into the street without looking. Looking before you walk is such a small thing that any adult should be able to do.
44
@43
Charles, so I understand, doesn't believe that humans in a capitalist society have any free will. So he might answer (to you) that an individual has no choice but to text on their phone while crossing a busy arterial. They are forced by the dynamics of capitalism to ignore their own commonsense.
Eh, Charles?
45
Put it this way Charles, it's not just to drivers that walkers have responsibility to, it's to everyone in the city. Fellow walkers don't want to be ran into by jerks reading on their phones, and bikers don't want to have walkers walk out in front of them. Everyone who inhabits this city has responsibility to everyone else inhabiting it, with varying levels of responsibility. But you do no one any favours by dissolving some inhabits of this city of any responsibility.
46
@37......That might work for a single person or couple, I was actually thinking in terms of a family, say four people. I suppose if you were to shop every day a granny cart would work. It might not be so easy if the bus were crowded though.
47
It's irritating to read posts by people who (like Mudede, I assume) don't have to be at work at a specific time and can leisurely walk to work (as he's posted doing in the past) or take a bus, and talk patronizingly and critically about people who, for all he knows, have to drive in from Burien to do some low-wage job in Seattle. But then he also talks patronizingly and critically about people who live in single-family dwellings, but does so himself.
48
Sorry disabled people, obese people, old people, poor people who need to commute from far outside the city, and people whose jobs require them to carry large amounts of objects around.

Your need for cars is ruining Mudede's nonsense utopia daydreams. So stop being old, disabled, obese, poor, and find a new job, you regressive assholes.
49
@47 Maybe those people are able to leisurely walk to work because they leave the house on time. It is no one's fault but your own if you leave late and get stuck in traffic.

All of us should pay more attention and treat each other with courtesy but when you get behind the wheel you have increased responsibility for those around you - even the ones that may not be paying attention - because you are the one operating a heavy, dangerous machine. The vast majority of automobile collisions with pedestrians and cyclists are caused by driver error.

I saw this story today and all I could think was "Well was the bus wearing a helmet? Maybe if the bus was wearing more reflective clothing..."

http://komonews.com/news/local/car-colli…
50
@37, those granny carts block the aisle, and are illegal under Metro's Transit Code of Conduct. Your luggage needs to fit in your lap or under your seat, otherwise it becomes everybody's baggage.

Also, using the lift for anything other than an individual with a medical need is prohibited. You can't ask the driver to stop the whole bus just for your special container. We live in a city with other people, not some region where every piece of mass transit must bow to the whims of the egotistical. Get over yourself, for the good of everybody around you.
51
If you care only about saving and preserving lives, then everyone is responsible for acting in a safe and predictable manner. That's the only way we keep people safe at work - watch out for your brothers and sisters regardless of mode of transportation, activities, job, whatever. Yes, you might have to take action that you "shouldn't" have to, but in return you get to go home the same way you came in, and you get an environment where everyone is looking out for everyone else.

If you want to be a self-indulgent shit more concerned with blame than anything else then fine - more people are going to end up maimed or dead. At the end of the day life is what matters and if that means wearing something bright colored so people can see me when I walk then so be it.

Why in the fuck would I make it more difficult for others to let me be safe?
52
@50:
those granny carts block the aisle, and are illegal under Metro's Transit Code of Conduct. Your luggage needs to fit in your lap or under your seat, otherwise it becomes everybody's baggage.
Bullarkey. The only pertinent paragraph in the http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/pdf…">Code of Conduct lists this as a civil infraction:

"Bringing onto a transit passenger vehicle any package or other object which blocks an aisle or stairway or occupies a seat if to do so would, in the operator’s sole discretion, cause a danger to passengers or displace passengers or expected passengers."

Also, using the lift for anything other than an individual with a medical need is prohibited. You can't ask the driver to stop the whole bus just for your special container.
From the http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/accessi…">Accessible Services section of Metro’s website: “Most of Metro’s buses now have ramps. Anyone can request that the ramp or lift be lowered. These aren’t just for riders using wheelchairs."
We live in a city with other people, not some region where every piece of mass transit must bow to the whims of the egotistical.
Yes, other people including the little old ladies those carts get their name from. Many of whom can’t drive and can’t afford to take a taxi home from the store. And for whom being able to take a small shopping cart on public transit is the difference between living independently, and not.

Not to mention families with young children. I guess you'd also prefer we keep strollers off the bus, along with Granny and her groceries?
53
@2 - I'm not sure how people let your comment slide. Truly poor people don't drive. Neglecting public transportation and making it harder to walk, ride a bike, take the bus, etc. is classist. Thinking that your ability and means to drive to work is a burden and not a privilege is classist. Plenty of people actually have to take public transit from places with a worse walk score than wherever you live.

Putting a preference on public transportation is democratic.
54
@52, clearly you need to actually research this more. Here is the actual criminal misdemeanor description by Metro.

"6.Intentionally obstructing or impeding the flow of transit vehicle or passenger movement, hindering or preventing access to transit property, causing unreasonable delays in boarding or deboarding, reclining or occupying more than one seat, or in any way interfering with the provision or use of transit services."

These carts intentionally impede the flow of passenger movement, and from the same page:

Misdemeanors can result in a citation and fine up to $1,000, and/or arrest and imprisonment in the county jail for not more than ninety (90) days.

Using the lift when not disabled intentionally causes unreasonable delays in boarding and deboarding. Clearly you are not as well versed in Metro's Code of Conduct as you thought.

http://metro.kingcounty.gov/safety/code-…

I shop and take my shopping with me on the bus. I've never had a license in my life. With but the smallest bit of forethought, it is easy to carry your groceries on the bus and still not violate the Code of Conduct. It isn't this onerous burden you make it out to be. It is a base line of civility, an acceptance that mass transit is for the masses.

Strollers are fine as long as they can fold up and be stowed. Keeping a child in one while the bus is moving is a safety hazard. But again, your right to ride the bus ends at your seat space, including what is under it and above it. If you can't fit your stroller in one of those locations, it has no business on the bus.
55
@54: Yes, that language does exist in the Code of Conduct. But the notion that taking a 14”x18” cart on the bus “intentionally impede(s) the flow of passenger movement” is preposterous. So is your assertion that use of the lift by anyone who is not disabled “causes unreasonable delays in boarding and deboarding.” As I showed above, Metro’s clearly stated policy is that anyone can request to use ramps or lifts, regardless of their disability status. Your just saying otherwise doesn’t make it true.

Strollers are fine as long as they can fold up and be stowed. Keeping a child in one while the bus is moving is a safety hazard.
Provably false. From Metro’s “Traveling with Children” page: ”Both collapsible and non-collapsible strollers are allowed on buses…Customers may board buses with a child in a stroller. At your request, the lift or ramp will be deployed by the operator…Once on board the coach, a child may remain seated in the stroller as long as the child is strapped in the stroller and the stroller is secured in the wheelchair securement area…Folding strollers must be folded and stored under or between the seats, unless the stroller is too full to do so or if the stroller is occupied and secured as noted above.”

Less stringent regulations apply to ADA Accessible strollers used by parents of disabled children or parents who are themselves disabled (for instance, parents who would otherwise require a device such as a wheeled walker for mobility).

I agree that people should use courtesy and common sense when riding public transit. But you’re just making shit up and saying things are prohibited by Metro which are in fact not only allowed, but in some cases encouraged.
56
@55:

Don't mind libertine - he's notorious for attempting to make things mean what he wants them to mean, rather than what they actually mean.
57
libertine just got BTFO
58
I think our road rage problems are a result of bad people. Bikes are not bad, cars are not bad, pedestrians are not bad. But each one takin the attitude that they are the center of the universe and adhere to the philosophy that only they are correct and moral, leads us to unending conflict.

I am amazed by how bad drivers, AND pedestrians, AND bikers are. Each blaming the other. If only each would show consideration toward the other and pay attention to what's going on around them as though other people matter most of this conflict would dissolve, as maybe would the war on cars.