What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

04 January 2012

I Almost Didn't Post Today

I've mentioned a few times that I volunteer for BikeTexas, a cycling advocacy group for the entire state. We also do some things for pedestrians, and the project I'm currently working on (that I still can't share any details of... the report is due to be released early next month, so you can expect to read all about it then) is for both cyclists and pedestrians. And I'm interested in advocacy for both, being that my lifestyle means that when I'm outside I'm almost always one of the two.

Last night there was a story on the evening news about two teenagers, a 16- and a 17-year-old, who were killed when crossing the street last week. The news report didn't specify whether they were actually in the crosswalk, although the video of the intersection shows that there was one, clearly marked. I immediately got upset, since this sort of thing is the reason I got into advocacy-- people should be able to cross the street without getting killed.

A little something to lighten the rather
cranky mood here at Cheekyness
today. Source.
Chad's reaction was a bit different: they should have been watching for cars, looking out for their own safety, etc. And I don't dispute that pedestrians should be looking out for themselves. There are two things that I do dispute: 1. That the bulk of the responsibility doesn't lie with the person who is moving a ton of metal around at much higher speeds than anyone can walk, and 2. That our society is so autocentric that our first impulse is to blame the pedestrian. I'm not upset that my husband had a different reaction from me to this story. I'm upset that as a society, we can so easily shrug off auto accidents, even ones where a pedestrian or cyclist (neither of whom have a protective box around them) is killed.

I don't want to get rid of cars. They are downright handy. Nor do I wish for the driver in this incident to be treated as an example to others (he won't be charged at all, if the news report is to be believed). What I do want is for the message to go out that you can't be distracted, you can't drive carelessly, and you can't kill or injure other people with impunity. I want more responsibility on the people who can cause more damage. And just to make sure it's clear that I'm not being anti-car: That responsibility should also include cyclists who run into pedestrians because they fail to yield as they should. And I don't know what that will look like, but I'm sure it will include demanding restitution from drivers who kill or injure others, even if it's merely paying the doctor bills. We don't have to be excessive, but we should make sure there are consequences.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Well.....I think that pedestrians need to follow the rules when they venture out on the road just as car drivers have to follow the rules when they venture out on the road. From what I have seen around our city pedestrians seem to have a death wish. They wear their ipods and use their cel phones for calling and texting while they are walking which to me amounts to "distracted walking" which is equally as dangerous as "distracted driving" which currently involves a fine and demerit points for a driver. They attempt to cross the road when the "hand" signal is up. They waltz out into crosswalks without first assessing the situation. I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that law enforcement when evaluating a situation needs to look at how responsibly the pedestrian was walking as well as how responsibly the driver was driving. As a pedestrian I have a healthy respect for the speeding chunk of metal and as a driver I have a healthy respect for that squishy little body that may do something entirely unpredictable. I know if I ever hurt someone with my car that I could never forgive myself and would probably never drive again. If the accident happened because of improper action on the part of the pedestrian I would expect that my emotional suffering would be recompensed...but somehow, I doubt it. Just one old bats opinion...

Liz A. said...

I agree. Drivers should be hypervigilant to make sure that they don't hit pedestrians. And pedestrians need to be careful not to run out in front of cars that can't stop oh so quickly.

I hate hearing about people getting killed.

J E Fritz said...

I'm always for people taking responsibility for their own actions, whether by car or on foot. But the story you linked to doesn't give many details about what happened, just that they were struck and no charges are being filed.

I really don't think the first impulse is to blame the pedestrian. I know cars do more damage, but they're also harder to maneuver. The window for noticing too late is a lot shorter for someone in a car, even if the driver was being careful. Sometimes distractions happen outside of your control, or sometimes you just don't see the danger. A driver shouldn't pay for a pedestrian/cyclist's injuries if it wasn't his fault.

Su said...

Good thoughts, everybody.