Educating pedestrians on the dangers of road traffic
Original post made by Walker, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 5, 2008
It seems that the average pedestrian feels that they can step out into traffic because they have the right of way without looking and without any responsibility. As a young child I was taught that all traffic is dangerous and I should always give way to it because it was bigger than me and took longer to stop than me. This idea seems to be irrelevant around here.
When I cross the street anywhere, I use my eyes and ears before I step into the street. I wait for cars to stop before I put a foot into the road and if a car is there, I wait until I know the driver has given me attention. If a car is waiting I will most likely walk behind the car unless there is a stop sign or light. If a car is reversing out of a driveway, I will stop and let him go unless he has made it clear that I can go.
Likewise, when I see bicycles, I treat them as vehicles, expecting them to stop and obey traffic signs, but still realise that their riders may not see me and so I am careful of them.
What I do tends to make me feel safe. I was taught this behaviour as a child living in the suburbs with busy roads nearby. I have taught my kids to do this from an early age, always holding their hands when we cross together and getting them to tell me when it is safe for us to cross so I know that they are learning the lessons.
Unfortunately, most pedestrians I see walk around with their heads in the clouds, expecting all traffic to see them, stop for them, and if they don't and they get hit, their self righteous assumption that they were in the right even if they stepped from dark shadows and should have been seen, is more important than the couple of seconds it would have taken to let the car go by and then step out safely is more correct.
I would like to see more pedestrian safety taught and awareness discussed. After all, it is better to wait and be safe than in the right and dead.