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US mother faced with jail after hit-and-run driver kills her child

28 Jul

This blog mainly reports on how UK pedestrians are regularly ignored, insulted and treated with contempt and also about the wonderful things that people in this country are doing to challenge this sorry situation. However, a comment on this blog yesterday alerted me to an appalling story in the USA where a mother, who’s 4yo child was killed by a hit-and-run driver as she crossed a busy road was found guilty of ‘vehicular homicide‘, an offense which seems to be primarily used against reckless drivers who kill but in this case was used again a pedestrian and who could have got a 3.5 years prison sentence. In fact she got ‘only’ got 40 hours community service and the chance of a retrial.

What comes clear from an interview with the mother on USA Today is that:
1) There is no provision for people to cross the road from the bus stop she used to the set of apartments opposite.
2) The road is a dual-carriageway and probably has a 45mph speed limit.
3) The transport authority is claiming that people should not cross the road, but should instead take an 800 meter diversion to use a proper crossing.
4) The jury has made up of people who didn’t use public transport or walk beside busy roads.

To me this an extreme example of ‘autocentric‘ planning and attitudes which resulting in everything being considered primarily from the motorist’s perspective. We see the same thing here where motorists park across the pavement to avoid inconveniencing other motorists, where maps fail to show footpaths because they are not relevant to motorists, where bins are left on the pavement by councils to avoid be sued by motorists, where signs warning motorists of diversions actually cause pedestrians to ‘divert’ into the road, and when the police arrest blind people in minutes as soon as they say they will deflate the tires of a car parked repeatedly across the pavement having failed to act on earlier requests from that person to get the motorist to stop parking there!

All of the above results in the perpetuation of the ‘oppression’ of pedestrians. What is great is to witness a huge global movement growing made up of people demanding that things change; not least, Ken Edelstein, from the Green Building Chronicle in Atlanta, who is doing a great job pointing out the injustice of this particular incident and showing how things could so easily be done differently in future.

Pedestrians get only 18% of the time at a busy pedestrian crossing

24 Mar

There is a major pedestrian crossing point opposite Suffolk College on the waterfront in Ipswich which has recently become very slow so I spent 15 minutes taking some measurements on what turned out to be a busy open day. I observed the waiting time after each the request was made, the time allowed for people to cross and then the delay until next request (all times in seconds).

  • 80, 17, 1
  • 80, 22, 60
  • 84, 18, 88
  • 76, 14

The average wait time was 80 seconds, the average crossing time was 18 second meaning that in a busy pedestrian town centre/tourist location pedestrians are getting only 18% of the time available. Curiously, I have previously established that pedestrians get only 18% of the road width outside a local primary school once cars have dominated both the carriageway and half of the pavement. Is this a example of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) which proposes that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes?

Here is the crossing – click on it to go to Google Streetview. Notice that the Google Streetview car caught someone waiting and a bunch more people arriving. And on a similar note… a reader of this blog has just commented that there is also a car stopped with its hazard lights just beyond the zigzags on the right blocking the cycle lane and forcing a cyclist behind them into oncoming traffic.

A work colleague tells me that the crossing by his house in a busy town-centre location is also very slow. By contrast, when I used a pedestrian crossing in a less pedestrian-busy location yesterday I noticed that it responded very quickly; I tested the crossing a few times and each time I was free to cross within 9 seconds (compared to 80 seconds at the college)!

I am thinking that it might be interesting to do a more systematic survey of the response times of crossing across the town. Possibly council should publish this information systematically as a matter of course.

Update 2
I reported this on FixMyStreet on the day I made this post however I still haven’t had any response or acknowledgment of my report from the council after more than 5 weeks which I think is very poor.

Update 3

The council appears to be responding to FixMyStreet reports now and has also cut the delay on this crossing by about half it seems (it  is a little hard to determine because the timing is now quite variable, but has been as short as 20 seconds which is great).