Response to recent conversation

Atlanta Forward readers commented on our blog about last week’s columns about rising pedestrian deaths in metro Atlanta and falling traffic fatalities in Georgie. Here are some select comments:

Chip: How many of these dead pedestrians walked out in traffic with their heads down, looking at their smart phone while surfing the web or texting? How many had their eyes closed while “rocking out” to their favorite music coming through earbuds, cut off from the noise of approaching cars? How many strolled out in front of multi-ton moving vehicles without looking because they were totally engrossed in a phone conversation? How many strolled out in front of distracted drivers simply expecting the driver to stop because the law says the pedestrian has the right of way, instead of waiting a few seconds to see if the driver was actually going to stop? Georgia law says pedestrians have the right of way over automobiles, but the problem is that … we have a reached a point where too many people simply expect the world to revolve around them, where they expect the laws of physics to somehow be magically repealed for their benefit when they carelessly and cluelessly step in front of tons of moving metal and plastic.

(The other) Rodney: I’ve said for years that just because the law protects you crossing the street, it will do little by way of protecting you from a car. It doesn’t clear you of any onus from casting an eye both ways before walking.

Andy McBurney: For some reason, people are often tempted to blame pedestrian fatalities on pedestrians. For example, in studying crashes on Buford Highway, I found various cases where a pedestrians crossing in the manner prescribed by Georgia law were hit by a driver, survived, then wrongly cited by police (the drivers were not cited). People on foot may not always follow the law. They may not even know there is a legal way for them to use our roads, which seem to be designed entirely for motorists. If a person makes a mistake while walking that causes them to be hit by a car, that is tragic. When a person behind the wheel of a car routinely behaves in a way that threatens those around him out of ignorance, that is injustice. The hope of PEDS’s message is that a little more attention to how we design roads can show pedestrians safe ways to get where they are going and help alert drivers to the people around them. It does not require blaming motorists. It does not require blaming pedestrians. Let’s count the cost, and move forward.

Lisa Frank: Thank you for giving PEDS this public forum. Sally Flocks’ work is critical to achieving a civilized urban center so many dream Atlanta can be. Experiencing life on two feet is far superior than behind the wheel of a car. It is time that policy makers and voters wake up and make safe walking conditions a top priority.

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