Friday, October 16, 2015

City Shares New Crosswalk Safety Material in Newsletter

Yesterday the City sent out the latest "Community Connection" newsletter, and it was great to see a section on crosswalk safety and walking.

Best part about it? It used the new "Every intersection is a crosswalk" graphic and underscored the asymmetry in power and vulnerability:
Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and walk safely. But, pedestrians are unprotected and vulnerable. Drivers can prevent a life-changing crash by being prepared to stop and yield no matter who has the right of way.
This is a meaningful shift away from the rhetoric of the traffic cone theory of defensive walking that calls for people on foot to wear bright clothing, blames those who wear "dark clothing," and implies or expects outright that they always defer to the greater speed, power, and priority of those in automobiles.

"Crosswalk safety" has too often meant the burden for safety devolved primarily onto the person on foot. This time "crosswalk safety" underscores the burden on the driver's side: "Drivers have specific duties to a pedestrian in a crosswalk."

Nicely done, City of Salem.

The next step will be to talk about stopping distance and speed. The mental state of "being prepared to stop" is not at all identical to the physics of being able to stop! 

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