Pedestrians As Safety Hazards

by on February 2, 2015 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Environment, San Diego

1By John P. Anderson / San Diego Free Press

In case we need further proof that drivers and cars will continue to receive priority over every other mode of transit in San Diego, the San Diego Police Department has provided more clear evidence of the supremacy of the car, this time at the specific expense of pedestrians.

If there is a single clearly beneficial manner of transit we should be encouraging at every chance it is walking. Following jaywalking stings in recent years, now the police department is going out of its way to portray pedestrians as dangers to the community and themselves and explaining some steps pedestrians should take to further cater to cars and avoid inconveniencing motorists.

This comes at the same time as we continue to widen roads, raise speed limits, and remove painted crosswalks (recently at the busy and popular corner of 30th and Upas in North Park). Additionally, both the city and county continue to espouse policies regarding crosswalks that explicitly argue against installation of painted crosswalks due to the ‘false sense of safety’ that they provide to pedestrians.

The animosity towards pedestrians would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragically dangerous. Am I overstating the case? Pedestrians deaths across the city continue to roll in, although whenever possible they are painted as scofflaw jaywalkers that were essentially asking for it by breaking such a serious law. A law, by the way, that is another clear signal that cars dominate our priorities.

On a street like the one I live on, the block is 330 feet long and 53 feet across. Jaywalking ensures that this entire space is illegal for pedestrians to use in any manner and is reserved solely for vehicles. Policies against painted crosswalks at both the city and county levels further enhance the allocation of space to vehicles by not even marking out an inch for pedestrians.

In my experience most people don’t realize that any corner is a crosswalk – painted
and non-painted are different kinds of crosswalks. As a result, motorists will ignore pedestrians waiting to cross the road and fail to yield as required by state law.Given that an elementary school is one block from the unpainted intersections on my street it would seem obvious that painted crosswalks should be present. If we can’t provide even the most basic type of pedestrian facilities for small children who will we provide them for?

This will remain unlikely as long as the county and city maintain their stance that painting crosswalks actually increases the danger to pedestrians. Even if they painted crosswalks at both ends of a block like mine and made them 10 feet wide, the amount of space legally usable for pedestrians would be 6.06% (1,060 square feet / 17,490 square feet). The majority of the road, 93.94% would be reserved solely for the passage and storage of vehicles.Enough anecdotes about the incredible amount of land we dedicate to vehicles only, which is a constant and physical reminder of what we place value on. On to the seemingly well-intentioned note from the SDPD to help keep pedestrians safe which is shown in full below.

What are we keeping pedestrians safe from? Other pedestrians? I don’t recall the last pedestrian killed by another person walking. Of course the danger that is obliquely referred to is the motor vehicle. For some reason the onus is put on the pedestrian – the most vulnerable and least detrimental form of transport known to humankind.So what advice does the SDPD have for pedestrians to keep themselves out of harms way? Essentially to dress like a traffic cone and give vehicles priority whenever possible; this is also known as ‘defensive walking’. Pedestrians should dress in bright colors, carry a flashlight, look thrice before crossing the street and do so only at corners.

Pedestrians should also not assume a car will stop – aka wait on the curb until there are no cars in either direction. These sort of instructions make walking seem dangerous, inconvenient and unpleasurable. Walking is great exercise, safe, and healthy – we should be encouraging it as much as possible! Repeat after me: “Motorists are dangerous, pedestrians are not.”

Again, no one is being killed or injured by pedestrians. Our neighbors and friends are being maimed and killed by motorists every single day of the year. Pedestrians are not the problem, they are a key part of making where we live safer and more enjoyable.If we were serious about keeping our neighborhoods safe for pedestrians we would take effective action against the biggest danger, motorists, and not penalize and scare people that might otherwise walk. Lower speed limits would be a great start.

Another powerful tool would be penalizing drivers that kill people. Running over an old man crossing the street in an unmarked crosswalk should not be chalked up to ‘oops, my bad’. Running over an elderly woman walking on the sidewalk should not result in no ticket.

These are real tragedies happening right where we live. The same police department that is scolding pedestrians for their flippant and unsafe ways is letting motorists walk away from a dead body without even a basic traffic citation. There is no clearer example of how much we will prioritize the car over all, we don’t even take killing someone seriously when it is done with a car.Will the SDPD be posting safety tips for motorists to Nextdoor as well? I won’t be holding my breath but hope so. I would suggest posting safety tips for each mode of transport in proportion to the amount of people killed by that mode in the past year.

Obviously this would result in an incredibly high amount of safety tips for motorists as compared to pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus riders. This would be appropriate because motorists are the biggest danger by a very, very wide margin to others.

The safety tips below are like addressing secondhand smoking by advising non-smokers to wear masks, avoid areas where smokers may be, and at the same time granting the majority of public land to smokers. It’s farcical and year, in regards to transport it is exactly what we are doing over and over in nearly every facet of our society.It’s time to stop stigmatizing safe transport and giving dangerous transport a free pass. Motorists are dangerous, pedestrians are not.


Crossing Harbor Drive adjacent to the new Waterfront Park in Downtown. Note the many curbs to cross.


No crossing this side, go over on-ramp, then proceed over curbs. Completely non-ADA compliant.

Original post made to Nextdoor website for North Park community.Steps for Pedestrian Safety, January 30. Officer Jenny Hall from San Diego Police Department

Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety

A reminder for pedestrians and drivers
• Cross streets at a corner, using traffic signals where available and crosswalks
• Always look left, right, and left again before crossing a street and keep watching as you cross. Be aware that drivers have differing levels of eyesight and skill in operating motor vehicles.
• Pedestrians should be especially careful at intersections, where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street
• Make sure you are seen: Make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets, wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at night, carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
• Walk on the sidewalk
• Walk defensively and be ready for unexpected events. Know what is going on around you and don’t allow your vision to be blocked by clothing, hats or items you are carrying.
• Watch the pedestrian signals, not the traffic signal and follow the “walk/don’t walk” lights.
• Watch out for parked vehicles. Parking lots can be dangerous
• Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can impair your ability to walk safely
• When crossing, use all of your senses and don’t use your cell phone for calls and texting
• Use particular caution when crossing driveways and alley entrances. Drivers may not expect you to be there or see you
• Adults should supervise children when crossing streets or walking in parking lots. Smaller children may be difficult for drivers to see and young children may not be able to judge whether it is safe to cross
• Walk dogs on short leashes
• MOTORISTS NEED TO BE VIGILANT OF PEDESTRIANS AND PEDESTRIANS NEED TO BE VIGILANT OF MOTORISTS. Although motorists have more responsibility under the law when operating a motor vehicle on city streets, pedestrians have more at stake

Whatever means of transportation, please travel safely

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

dd February 2, 2015 at 10:43 am

people drive like jerks. cars kill.

keep your head on a swivel and expect that nobody is looking for you, and will run you over.

even if you have the right away, getting hit by a car hurts, their fault or not.


Geoff Page February 2, 2015 at 11:17 am

Pedestrians can also be jerks.

My son witnessed a pedestrian get hit at the corner of Narragansett and Sunset Cliffs this weekend. A woman came our of a liquor store on the east side of Sunset Cliffs and got hit crossing Sunset Cliffs. The northbound lane was stopped due to heavy traffic. She ran between the stopped cars into the southbound lane that was moving at speed. Apparently, she was OK, because we saw her walking on Newport Sunday with an arm in a sling. The person who really suffered was the poor woman who hit her, my son said she was hysterical and she didn’t do anything wrong.

So before all the anti-car people get up in arms, I think you’ll find that many pedestrian accidents are the pedestrian’s fault. Oh, and I was waiting at a four-way stop at Cable and Voltaire waiting my turn to go when a bicycle blew past me ignoring all of the rules of the road, never bothering to stop. Had he been hit by a car, I’m sure we would have heard more about evil cars targeting bicycles. It ain’t ever black and white.


dd February 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm

yea, i should restate that… people are jerks in general.

if you’re driving, head on a swivel

if you’re walking, head on a swivel

on a bike, head on a swivel

basically just assume that everyone is trying to get you

(i’m not wearing a tinfoil had)


John Anderson February 3, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Geoff, I’m not anti-car. I have one and drive it. I think we should recognize that they are inherently dangerous (large mass and high velocity) and treat them with respect and safety.

They pose a far greater risk to passersby than a human walking so I would expect our police department to address the more dangerous mode of transport as a higher priority.


Geoff Page February 4, 2015 at 10:26 am

A reasonable response, John.


Allison February 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

I whole heartedly agree with this article. As a blind pedestrian, I encounter more and more hazards when I’m simply trying to live my life as independently as possible. When Oh when are drivers going to be held responsible for bad choices or for simply not caring enough to pay attention to something other than their cell phones?


mjt February 2, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Check out the you tube, no traffic rules in Ho Chi Minh city,
I personally think it’s great.
people on scooters, no helmets, pedestrians, cars, buses, all coming and going with no rules.

ho ho, ho chi minh


mjt February 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I just watched another Ho Chi Minh City video, scooter ride in Vietnam, 31minutes.
I thought my traveling days were over, but if I stay healthy, this is a place I would love to visit.
3 &4 people on a scooter, lady rolling taco type food in outdoor stand,taking money at the same time, no plastic gloves, no food inspectors.
America the insane.
We talk freedom in America. To our organized linear brains, reacting to the moment is unknown. We surrender to authority, screaming for control.
The police, police, extracting millions in fines, that filters into their pensions and benefits.

Someone once said, there must be some way out of here.


unwashedwallmartthonG February 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm

“They’re trying to kill me,” Yossarian told him calmly.
“No one’s trying to kill you,” Clevinger cried.
“Then why are they shooting at me?” Yossarian asked.
“They’re shooting at everyone,” Clevinger answered. “They’re trying to kill everyone.”
“And what difference does that make?”
Name the source, win my identity!


gristmiller February 3, 2015 at 5:57 am

Catch 22, Joseph Heller, I believe.


Marc Snelling February 3, 2015 at 6:19 am

Everybody knows what thats from, but nobody wants that identity. “Its a catch 23 situation”


Geoff Page February 3, 2015 at 10:19 am

Good one.


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