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Pedestrian Safety
Old 09-18-2010, 05:29 PM   #1
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Pedestrian Safety

I walk everywhere, and so do several others on the board. Pedestrain safety is important. Probably the biggest risk for many is exercise walking along the shoulder of a country road and getting hit by an impaired driver, or at dusk, or by a driver who is blinded by afternoon or morning sun. This latter is a big factor up here, with low sun angles during much of the year.

My walking is urban, and here I read a study that says by far the biggest threat to pedestrians lawfully crossing a city street is drivers turning left from a two-way street. I have started to pay attention to this, and I think it is very likely true. The driver is concentrating on oncoming traffic, and he may not see you when he starts his turn. If he then has to stop, he could get broadsided. Or he may never see you. Even experienced bus drivers have killed or severely injured pedestrians with left turns. The City of Portland had a recent case where a turning bus hit 5 young women I believe during the early AM, killing 2 outright. They are redesigning routes to help blunt this problem.

The other big one I see is F-head drivers rolling through a light planning a right turn, looking back to their L to check traffic, and almost hitting me as I try to get their attention as I try to cross the street coming from the direction they plan to turn, and are too stupid to check.

SWR etc is important, but it won't do us any good if we are dead.

Ha
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Old 09-18-2010, 05:35 PM   #2
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I find that wearing a neon clown suit at all times and periodically honking an air horn helps keep drivers aware of my location.
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Old 09-18-2010, 08:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
SWR etc is important, but it won't do us any good if we are dead.

Ha
Excellent observation. We have so much worry and hand-wringing here about SWR, AA, pay off the mortgage, etc, - but we need to take reasonable steps to reduce risk to our physical well being also.

While I don't go nuts about it, I try to reduce the time I spend on the road as much as is practical. Planning and combining trips is the lowest impact way to do this. 40,000 people die on roads each and every year, many more experience radically reduced quality of life, many of those for the rest of their life.

Walking does have its risks. It makes sense to be extra alert to the dangers. I'm frightened by the bicycle riders I see, riding just several feet away from high speed cars (and 15 mph qualifies as high speed if it hits a pedestrian or bike rider).

Make sure your smoke alarms and CO detectors are working. Make sure your appliances and cars are in good working order. Electric outlets have proper polarity and ground, GFCIs in places kitchens and baths. Probably a bunch of other stuff your Mother told you.

edit/add - There was a very sad story from around here recently. A young girl dropped her cell phone while crossing a busy intersection, and apparently just not thinking, she jumped back to retrieve it and jumped right into the path of a car and was killed. So sad for the friend she was with and her family - alive one minute, dead the next. I really feel sorry for the poor driver - from what I read, he just had no time to react and there were no charges against him, yet I can't even imagine how bad he must feel.

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Old 09-18-2010, 09:16 PM   #4
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Last June a friend's husband was jogging as he did every day, and at an intersection he was hit by a car whose driver just didn't see him (or else didn't notice him). He had nearly every possible bone broken, and had to have repeated emergency surgeries for brain swelling. It was touch and go as to whether he would even live for a couple of weeks, and then whether or not he would be able to think, speak, or recognize his wife. After three months he is finally home. He is much improved but is still physically, visually, and mentally impaired. Stories like this do make me realize how quickly a happy retirement can become a nightmare.

It is important for me, as a pedestrian, to stay on the sidewalks and cross safely at intersections. I need to assume that I am invisible to any driver. I need to keep my eyes open for anomalies, such as a drunk driving down the sidewalk. I need to choose my streets according to my perception of their safety for me, even if they are not as pretty or as short a route as some other street.

Also, on occasions when I am just walking for exercise and not necessarily for transportation, I generally walk along walking trails in a park, or inside a mall, or at the gym, and I think that is a good idea.

It is important for me, as a driver, to be vigilant and aware of pedestrians and to not allow myself to become distracted. The last thing I would ever want is to hit a pedestrian.
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Old 09-18-2010, 10:03 PM   #5
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I agree with everything Ha said about the riskiest places and the danger of the low sun. I usually go behind a car making a right turn unless I've made eye contact and know they are fully stopping.

It's not easy to know when a driver simply can't see you. I face all of these dangers when running, though I run on trails when I can to take cars out of the equation. I can't even think of a place with sidewalks where I run now, though concrete is terrible on the legs so I never ran on them when I did leave in a sidewalk neighborhood. So if you ever wonder why someone is running on the street instead of the sidewalk, it's to avoid pounding type injuries.

I wear bright clothes when I'm running on roads, and even then assume drivers won't see me.

Then there's the issue of running or hiking in the woods during hunting season. Mostly I just don't, but even country roads seem dangerous so I've got some orange running gear.
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:02 PM   #6
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You're right, Ha. Defensive walking is at least as important as defensive driving. I'm often amazed at the people we're willing to put at the wheel of a ton or more of steel.

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Old 09-19-2010, 12:15 AM   #7
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I won't even ride a bicycle in street traffic. I don't feel safe. I'm glad I don't have to walk where there are traffic lights or much traffic at all, and we have bike paths here set well away from the road.

When I'm the driver, I really look out for you pedestrians!

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Old 09-19-2010, 12:38 AM   #8
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[Analysis of Pedestrian Crashes DOT-HS-809-585, 2003]

The following 10 specific pedestrian precrash scenarios were obtained by correlating the eight basic precrash scenarios
with information about the crash’s relationship to the junction (percentages shown refer to the frequency of each
scenario relative to the size of all pedestrian crashes):

- Scenario 1: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is crossing the roadway at nonjunction (25.9 percent).

o Scenario 2: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is crossing the roadway at intersection (18.5 percent).

o Scenario 3: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is darting onto the roadway at nonjunction (16.0 percent).

o Scenario 4: Vehicle is turning left and pedestrian is crossing the roadway at intersection (8.6 percent).

o Scenario 5: Vehicle is turning right and pedestrian is crossing the roadway at intersection (6.2 percent).

o Scenario 6: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is walking along the roadway at nonjunction (3.7 percent).

o Scenario 7: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is darting onto the roadway at intersection (2.5 percent).

o Scenario 8: Vehicle is backing up (2.5 percent).

o Scenario 9: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is not in the roadway at nonjunction (1.2 percent).

o Scenario 10: Vehicle is going straight and pedestrian is playing or working in the roadway at nonjunction (1.2 percent).
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Old 09-19-2010, 06:39 AM   #9
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Perhaps a whistle would be useful to carry?

I make a habit of waving my hand when crossing the street in towns to make sure drivers see me. Eye contact and a wave back from the drivers before I cross w*rks very well.

There are minimal road shoulders along the country roads where I live. Most of the joggers and walkers around here wear bright orange or neon yellow-green vests or belts. A flashlight held in the hand is very visible in dawn or dusk hours.
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Old 09-19-2010, 09:03 AM   #10
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When I walk on streets or roads, not sidewalks, I have always been told to walk against the traffic (on the left side - facing traffic). The reasoning being if a car comes toward you, you might have enough time to jump out of the way.

It seems to me as I get older, I don't see this as much any more. Many times, I see people out strolling on a service road that I sometimes walk and drive, walking on the right side of the road. They wouldn't have a chance of getting out of the way if a car came up behind them, not seeing them walking.

How many of you walk against the traffic, on the left side?
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:51 AM   #11
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I often walk downtown in an area with lots of one way streets. It's surprising how many times I encounter a driver going the wrong way on one of these one-ways. At least one every week. Sometimes more than one a day! I figure if there are that many drivers ignoring rules or getting something as obvious as going the wrong way on a one way street wrong, then how many others are oblivious to pedestrians (or bicycle, scooter, motorcycle) traffic. Probably a lot. As a pedestrian it will do me very little good to have had the right of way if I am hit. I do everything I can to avoid putting myself in situations where I need the driver to notice me or do the right thing to avoid hitting me. That means I stay well up on sidewalks, look in ALL directions before crossing anything, don't jump out at intersections as soon as the light is in my favor and so on. If forced to walk on the street because there are no sidewalks I do walk facing the traffic for exactly the reason your describe. If I can see a car approaching that is not leaving enough room on the shoulder I have time to move off the roadway - time I would not have if the car came up behind me.

BTW what's up with all the joggers who run in the street instead of on the sidewalk. Usually around dawn or twilight when they are the most difficult to see.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:26 AM   #12
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Apparently the Toyota Prius is just too quiet to alert pedestrians:

Prius to offer optional noise to alert pedestrians | The Digital Home - CNET News
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by happy2bretired View Post

How many of you walk against the traffic, on the left side?
Always, unless there is no shoulder on the left side and a wide one on the right. It drives me nuts when I see someone walking with traffic, and the couple times they've said something they've either given me a look like I'm crazy, or have some lame excuse, like "oh, I'm just going right here"--so why were you on the wrong side for the last 1/2 mile? So usually I don't say anything, but if I'm running towards them I keep to the edge and make then go around me.
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:19 PM   #14
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One on the things I learned is that in NYC the police have a form printed for a car hitting a pedestrian... it was a former boss who got hit by a cab that found it out...


It is something that I always try to do is look at the driver... the closest that I have come to getting hit is the ones who want to turn right on red.... they get to the red light and look left... and start their turn with you walking across with the 'WALK' sign burning brightly for you...


I would say the other thing is if you are the only one, or only a couple are crossing... if you are in a downtown setting, usually there are more people crossing and the driver knows that people are crossing... it is when you are the only one where it can make a big difference..

The other day I was walking out our building to the parking lot... we cross a 'street' that goes to a supermarket and a few other shops, but not a through street... we have a marked pedestrian walkway... I was a few steps from the street when I saw a lady on the phone in her SUV driving 35 MPH over the speed bumps that are there to slow down cars... never noticed me and kept driving over the next speed bump... glad I in the habit of looking...
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:09 PM   #15
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Back in my empl*yed days, I would call in sick when I didn't trust myself to be fully alert when crossing the street.
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:38 PM   #16
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Gotta take care of yourself. When driving I don't believe oncoming driver's turnsignals till i see them slow and the wheels start turning. Try for eye contact with other drivers. When I used to ride an old Triumph motorcycle, a hugely noisey, clanking smoking eyesore on the road, it was amazing how many people "didn't see me". On a bike or on foot right or wrong makes no difference - you lose.

On a related note, my theory is that pissing people off is bad for one's health. Yeaterday going to the big city on I5 I was rolling at a good rate - about 72 on a 65 posted road. Came upon a major moving traffic jam that turned out to be behind two 50ish women, fully biker geared up on Harleys riding side by side in the fast lane. at 62mph. Here's a clue: the left lane is a passing lane. Even if you are riding a Harley and have motorcycle cop lesbian fantasies going on it's still a passing lane. I don't care if I'm doing 80 in the left lane - if a fast mover is closing on me i move over. It's the law, it's the right thing to do, and it's the safe thing to do. Traffic all jammed up together is unsafe. Upset people are unsafe.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:28 PM   #17
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Defensive walking, defensive cycling, defensive driving. I've seen just about everything. I've taught my kids that just because you are in a crosswalk within 50 yards of the school with a school crossing guard hoiding up a stop sign doesn't mean that the cars are going to stop. They've been with me enough times when cars have not stopped to know.

Recently a girl was splattered down the road when hit by a SUV as she crossed the street to get on her school bus. Just because the school bus is stopped with flashing red lights doesn't mean that the cars are going to stop. I've taught my kids to wait until any approaching cars are stopped. I've seen bus drivers lean out the window and tell kids to wait until cars are actually stopped which helps.

You won't like the way I ride my bike. If I feel that it is not safe to pass me, then I am going to be riding in the middle of the road, so you can't pass me. Tough.

I just assume that cars are going to fail to yield the right of way. That way I am never surprised by what they do.
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:46 AM   #18
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Too many people driving cars that should not be allowed the privilage. Too many people not paying attention to driving and apparently don't care. Sign of the times that people are becoming more interested in themselves at the expense of the rest of the population. This shows up in all areas of social interaction and unfortunately, although some of the behaviors are done on purpose, many behaviors are no longer considered to be inconsiderate or rude. Couple that with the person driving a car and you have increased the probablity for injuries.

Cheers!
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:53 AM   #19
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Too many people driving cars that should not be allowed the privilage. Too many people not paying attention to driving and apparently don't care. Sign of the times that people are becoming more interested in themselves at the expense of the rest of the population. This shows up in all areas of social interaction and unfortunately, although some of the behaviors are done on purpose, many behaviors are no longer considered to be inconsiderate or rude. Couple that with the person driving a car and you have increased the probablity for injuries.

Cheers!
Yup. Damn kids won't stay off my lawn either...
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:45 AM   #20
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I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle when I was a kid. (My fault.) Thereafter, I developed the attitude that drivers were out to kill me. It served me well.

The things that have scared my most in my life were times when I came close to hitting pedestrians. Sometimes they were taking risks, but every time my attention had lapsed. In almost every case, it would have been my fault. (Exception: some shirtless long-haired young nut (drunk? stoned? suicidal? carjacker?) jumped out at me out of nowhere in the dark on a back road near Houston one very dark night. Missed him.)
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