Distracted walkers are not the problem

It has become popular recently to blame pedestrians for their own death. Some have always done this, from the beginning of the auto industry and its “jaywalking” campaign, but it is amazing how much law enforcement promotes this blame, how much the media buys into it, and how much transportation and safety agencies (Caltrans and OTS) market it. 

So let me share my experience. I walk, a lot, in addition to bicycling, a lot. Every day drivers refuse to yield my right of way when I am making legal street crossings. It makes little difference if I am waiting on the curb (where they are not required to yield, except by common courtesy), or waiting in the street, where they are absolutely required to yield to me. On multi-lane streets, when one driver stops for me, it is quite common for drivers in other lanes to not stop, though the law requires them to. I am never walking distracted, I make the personal choice to not look at my phone while crossing the street. But for anyone to suggest that it is the fault of someone walking distracted when a driver fails to yield right of way to a pedestrian, and kills them, is deeply, deeply offensive. This is similar to someone saying, well, I was just firing my gun and someone happened to walk in front of it. Cars are deadly weapons, and drivers are potential killers. It is time our society grew up and took responsibility for the harm that can be caused, and is caused, by our addiction to driving, and to the imputed freedom to run down someone who is just crossing the street. 

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