Streets Are for People, Too
When traffic experts talk about sharing the road, they don't mean just with other drivers. You'll hear more from them this week about pedestrian safety as the again launch the Street Smart campaign, but first, here's a street scene.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
As most folks know in our neighborhood, we've had three pedestrian deaths in the past year (it may even be in a shorter timeframe than that). Two of those were folks crossing in the crosswalk, though not at a light. One person was crossing against traffic. The local precinct has upped speed traps, but based on my experience, speed is not the issue. It's driver awareness that there are pedestrians.
I have a young daughter, and her grandmother and nanny are out with her every day; her grandmother tells me frequently about traffic that nearly hit them or others she's seen. Just last Thursday, we were walking south on Connecticut, crossing Ellicot Street on the west side. An SUV was parked away from the curb with its hazard lights blinking, about halfway into the crosswalk. For us to walk around the vehicle, we had to either walk very close to Connecticut Ave traffic or behind the SUV, where we couldn't have gotten onto the sidewalk easily.
I approached the vehicle, and asked the man if he was having car trouble. He responded that he was "just waiting for someone." That being the case, I asked him to please move his car so it wouldn't be in the crosswalk. He rolled his eyes and his window back up. I can't tell you how furious I was. His companion was approaching the car, so I asked her to please ask her husband or friend to please not park in the crosswalk the next time he picked her up (I assume he wasn't local, as the car had MD plates).
What I should have done was turned around and marched right back to the police cruiser parked about half a block away, or at least gotten the plate number. But I had my daughter with me, and it was dinnertime, and I was hopping mad.
I hope that you publish to help spread the word to drivers. Drivers - please consider that there are lots of pedestrians in the DC area - and we don't have as many choices or protection as you do in your cars.
Here's a map of the Connecticut Avenue/Ellicott Street intersection. (You can get a street view that will show the crosswalk on the west side.)
View Larger Map
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