The Car vs The Pedestrian

(Spoiler alert: It’s a pretty one-sided affair.)

Just in the last two days here in the Tri-Cities, there have been not one but two separate incidents of a car striking pedestrian(s).

Yesterday, a student walking home from Pasco High School was struck by a car at the corner of 12th Avenue and Sylvester Street. Initial reports indicate he may have been jaywalking, but there has been nothing to confirm that as of posting this.

Today, two students were struck while in a crosswalk immediately in front of Park Middle School (in Kennewick). The driver reportedly had been running late and thus had failed to adequately remove frost/ice from his windshield, so he was cited for “second-degree negligent driving.”

In yesterday’s incident, the student was transported to the hospital, but there was no indication if he suffered any serious injuries. The students from this morning’s incident had minor bruising but no major injuries.

The thing I really, really want to know is this: Why are these incidents still happening?

In the header of my blog, the subtitle reads “A Transit Nerd in Cartopia.” And when I say Cartopia, I mean that both literally and figuratively. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the populace of the Tri-Cities is very auto-minded. Pick any intersection in the city, and 19 out of 20 vehicles will be a car (versus a semi, bus, etc), and almost always occupied by just one person (referred to as a single-occupant vehicle, or SOV). I can’t say that the community as a whole induces sprawl, since it’s not “large” in comparison to say Seattle or Portland, but the low-density development of the area is not exactly conducive for alternative choices to driving. The one good thing about the area, Kennewick in particular, is that most roads have sidewalks. That being said, they’re not always useful. And don’t even get me started on people blocking the sidewalk right-of-way (ROW) with landscaping, parked vehicles, etc.

As a pedestrian in this area, I’ve seen my share of good drivers. They are courteous and polite to me, yielding when they’re supposed to, and actually wait until I’ve gotten off the street before proceeding onwards. On the other side, I’ve seen more than my share of bad drivers. These are the drivers who will yell, threaten, and honk at me, or even nearly strike me with their car, all while I legally cross the street at a crosswalk with the pedestrian signal activated. (And these are all things that have happened to me just in the last week.) To these people, the car is king. And with the streets designed with them in mind, there’s nothing that will change this.

To end this post on a pro-pedestrian note, I thought I’d share this little video. If you’ve never seen it before, I guarantee you’ll like it. And if you have seen it before, why not watch it again?…

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