Archive for the ‘pedestrian’ Category

Texas (yes, Texas!) has passed a new pedestrian safety measure. It would actually penalize drivers who severely injure someone walking or biking:

A new safety law that is now in effect in Texas could see a driver go to jail if they hit someone walking or cycling. Senate Bill 1055 was signed into law by Governor Abbott in June, and drivers can now go to jail if they cause bodily harm to a pedestrian. The new law says drivers who cause bodily harm to pedestrians will face stiff consequences which include being charged with a class A misdemeanor and possible time behind bars.

Senate Bill 1055 was signed after a Houston mother was killed by a driver while crossing the street with her son; the driver in that accident walked away without any charges. 

“You can spend up to a year in jail. So now, we’re talking about jailtime, not a ticket where you go pay a fine. Although, there could be a fine up to $4,000,” said Sgt. Charlie Eipper of the Wichita Falls Police Department.

The real question is whether the new law will be enforced. Perhaps Texas can implement a bounty system…

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This seems an important historical moment:

The Kansas City Star coined the term in 1905 to ridicule pedestrians who failed to stay to the right and yield to others on crowded sidewalks. It was a takeoff on “the jay driver,” an exasperated way to refer to the operators of horse-drawn carriages or early motor cars who traveled on the wrong side of the street. At the time, “jay” was a pejorative word to refer to a person believed to be dimwitted.

In time, of course, jaywalker became a more universal name for people who cross streets in places other than designated intersections. And, in Kansas City and other places, jaywalking became an ordinance violation—and a way for police to subjectively stop people and perhaps issue a ticket, even if the street crossing caused no one any harm.

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council voted to remove its prohibition against jaywalking. It also got rid of two offenses related to bicycling. The council acted quickly after Jane Brown, the mayor’s general legal counsel, reported on Wednesday that, of 123 jaywalking tickets issued in Kansas City over the last three years, 65% were handed out to Black pedestrians. Blacks make up only 30% of Kansas City’s overall population.

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You just can’t win. When activists campaign for closing streets to cars, merchants complain that it would cost them business. And then there’s Breckenridge, which has cancelled “Walkable Main” because it was too successful:

“Something that I am really concerned about is … if a restaurant that is in the closure is able to be not just at 100% capacity but then even above 100% capacity, we already have an employment issue in this town,” Owens said. “We know lots and lots of people are trying to hire and are understaffed, and I guess I would just really hate to see some people that are at 120% capacity getting full staff, and then somebody north of town or south of town not able to get full employees because there’s just additional pressure on the employee situation.”

Council member Dennis Kuhn added that residents on neighboring streets like Park Avenue and French Street did not enjoy the increase in traffic that they experienced while Walkable Main was in place last summer. Council member Dick Carleton said he was torn on the issue and said he had concerns about safety.

Obviously the best way to improve safety is to drive lots of multi-ton vehicles down the main drag.

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20% of statistics are made up

SMH this pedestrian “safety” flyer being handed out by LAPD:

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Given the complete lack of effort on the part of traffic engineers, I’m really starting to think this may be the only solution to making roads safe for walking and biking:

Mary Moriarty Jones took over ownership of part of Leahi Avenue in October from its former owner, Lunalilo Trust. The trust, wanting to avoid future liability, signed over the road to Jones in a $10 quitclaim deed.

Jones told Civil Beat in November she was compelled to take over Leahi Avenue after trying for more than four years to get the city to assume responsibility for the road to make it safer for pedestrians — especially for parents of young children attending nearby Waikiki Elementary School.

“All I wanted to do was walk my children to school without fearing for their lives,” she said then.

Now Jones is facing major pushback from angry neighbors who don’t like the tactics she is using to clear parked cars and make the road safer for pedestrians. Jones says her plan is to eventually charge for parking on the street with all proceeds going into safety improvements, including a sidewalk on one side of the street. She says 12 to 14 parking places will be removed in the plan.

Jones lowered the speed limit from 25 to 15 mph

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In case there was any doubt that jaywalking needs to be decriminalized:

A recently filed federal lawsuit says the Cincinnati Police Department attacked and violated the rights of an autistic Black man in 2019. According to documents filed Tuesday, Feb. 2, in a Cincinnati court, 32-year-old Brandon Davis was subjected to repeated tasing, shoved into a chain-link fence, and forcefully kneed in his back by CPD officers Emily Heine and Weston Voss.

The suit alleges Davis was attacked by the officers sometime after 11 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2019, while he was walking home from a friend’s house in Cincinnati’s South Cumminsville neighborhood to the home he shares with his mother in the nearby Millvalle district. Davis did not have a criminal record at the time, according to Cincinatti.com, but he was charged with jay-walking, resisting arrest and being in the park after dark. He spent a night in jail and was eventually acquitted of all charges.

However, Davis said he was not in the park but rather near it and, due to his autism, following a safety route put in place for his protection for whenever he went anywhere. Friedman, Gilbert and Gerhardstein are representing Davis in the case, which is suing for unreasonable seizure, false arrest and malicious prosecution. They said Davis was targeted merely for “walking while Black.”

“What they did to me was terrible. I did nothing wrong. They hurt me,” Davis said in a statement. Despite his pleas, the lawsuit says, “Heine and Voss pushed Davis onto his stomach on the ground” and “Voss dig his knee into” Davis’ back while Heine continued to tase him.

The lawsuit also alleges a supervisor who was called onto the scene asked Davis how old he was and when he responded, “32,” the supervisor said, “You know how this game goes, then. Chill out.” Davis and his attorneys found the comment egregious, alleging the supervisor said that because “he believed that because Brandon Davis was an adult Black man, he must have experienced the pain, fear and humiliation of this type of event before and should therefore ‘chill out.’”

Racial bias by Cincinnati police has been a longstanding problem, as noted in this report. But rather than acknowledge the problem, Cincinnati police are doubling down and defending the actions of its officers.

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That will teach those jaywalkers a lesson:

A pedestrian was hospitalized after he was hit by a vehicle while trying to cross Market Street Wednesday evening. According to the Wilmington Police Department, the collision happened in the 2700 block of Market Street at around 8:20 p.m. Police say the pedestrian suffered non-life-threatening injuries to his legs and was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The driver will not face any charges, while the pedestrian was cited for jaywalking.

This is a residential neighborhood with a nearby bus stop. According to Google maps, the nearest marked crosswalk is a quarter mile away — so figure 1/2 mile detour just to cross the street.

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Sacramento St in Berkeley is currently under construction for what is described as a “complete streets” project. Here is the existing conditions:

As you can see, this is an extremely wide 4-lane arterial running through a residential neighborhood. The roadway has very low traffic volumes, leading to speeding and dangerous passing. The obvious solution would be a road diet to reduce speeds and space for buffered bike lanes (or perhaps even cycletracks). Instead, the city is only proposing to put in some new intersection treatments without doing any lane reductions or other measures to reduce speeding.

Let’s compare to a very similar project going on along Oakland’s 14th Ave. Here is the existing road configuration, which as you can see is also a 4-lane residential arterial:

Given the similarity of the two streets, one might expect these neighboring cities to implement similar solutions. But aside from the intersection treatments, the approaches are quite different. Berkeley is not adding bike lanes and will maintain its street as a dangerous high-speed thoroughfare. Oakland is doing a full road diet to calm traffic. Thus, the Oakland project is complete, the Berkeley one is not. The sad thing is that the Berkeley project sits directly outside a BART station and connects to a popular bike trail. The top community concern in meetings was slowing traffic, so how did Berkeley end up doing the bare minimum?

Oakland 14th Ave road diet
Berkeley “Complete” Streets project

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A critical section of Bay Trail running past Golden Gate Fields was opened this past June linking Berkeley and Richmond. This wildly popular segment is useful for both recreational and commuter cyclists.

But not everyone was happy about this path. Back in 2013, Norman Laforce filed a lawsuit against the EB Regional Park District over the EIR for the project.

This was hardly the first time Laforce had battled the park district. I first heard about Laforce in 1995, when he tried blocking construction of another Bay Trail segment. He has a long history of filing frivolous lawsuits and trying to prevent the public from accessing their public parks. His world view is that parks are to be fenced off from the public. He has tried to remove kiteboarders and dogs from Albany Beach, prohibit cyclists from riding on fire roads, and even opposed the Berkeley High girls crew team from rowing in the Aquatic Park lagoon.

Laforce is now running for a seat on the EBRPD Board of Directors. Hilariously, his website features a picture of him with his dog on a trail, and talks about the importance of improving park access to “urban youth”. If you live in EBRPD Ward 1 (Berkeley/Richmond area), it is critical that you vote for his opponent, Elizabeth Echols.

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By now you may have heard about an Alameda resident arrested for “dancing” in the street. Here is the police cam footage of the incident. The confrontation was far worse than what was described in those initial headlines, which gave the impression the man was drunk or jaywalking. It is especially disconcerting that the officer reprimands the gentleman for not being on the sidewalk — even though social distancing rules require persons exercising keep at least 6′ distance from pedestrians on the sidewalk.

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