I perked up last month when I saw that the Fresno Bee had devoted an entire article to the epidemic of vehicle violence. I had recently noted that the Bee is littered with stories about deaths, injuries and tragedy on our streets ever day, and was excited about something that may contain an actual investigation, and not just a retyping of the police logs.
The article that actually took a look into the epidemic is called Pedestrian deaths a tragic trend in Fresno.
Unlike last months excellent LA Weekly piece on the extraordinary amount of hit and runs in Los Angeles, and the completely ineffective work by police departments to stop this, the Fresno Bee story took a different angle: how to blame the pedestrian.
Many of the pedestrian victims wore dark clothing and walked on the
roadway at night, said Sgt. Richard Tucker, of the traffic bureau. Tiani
Philpot was wearing dark clothing and walking south in the southbound
slow lane of four-lane Marks Avenue, near Emerson Avenue, when she was
hit about 11:30 p.m.
“The roads are not designed for pedestrians,” Tucker said. “They are designed for vehicles.”
Yes, how dare the victim wear dark clothing. Clearly, when she planned out her outfit early that morning, she should have considered that she’d be walking in an area with no sidewalk, and no street lights.
She was hit and killed in a school zone. But instead of street lights and sidewalks, it was deemed more important to have five lanes available for cars. The officer is right, this road wasn’t designed for pedestrians. Instead of directing blame at the city engineering department, for designing this, and instead of directing blame at the motorists, who was driving too fast for conditions, isn’t it just easier to blame the deceased?
You’ll note a very well worn desire path on the right. Clearly, many people walk here. At night however, without streetlights, it may have been impossible for her to see that dirt path, or perhaps it was muddy or flooded.
Incidentally, that area just got a new traffic light in the past year. A crosswalk was added. But take a look at how much care was placed on this brand new construction (which you can see from the sign was funded by the stimulus). A remarkably narrow sidewalk, with a pole placed in the middle. An ADA violation like this, in something built in 2012 is unacceptable, but don’t expect an inquiry as to how this was approved.
From the above quote, you might remember officer Tucker from a previous incident. He was quoted in a very similar story about a student hit by a vehicle in another part of town, again without sidewalks or street lights.
While Fresno Police work to determine who was at fault and whether the
lack of lighting contributed to the crash, Sgt. Richard Tucker wants to
remind pedestrians to take precautions to keep themselves safe.
“Walking in the roadway is not a place to walk, we’re asking pedestrians
to cross at the intersection, to push the button and wait for it to say
walk. And of course the cross walk isn’t always a safe zone. We’re
asking you always look both ways before you cross the road,” said Sgt.
In that story, there were no buttons to push, or sidewalks to walk on. For the officer, that didn’t matter, the student should have attended school elsewhere I guess.
Isn’t it great to know that the officer at the traffic bureau approaches cases involving pedestrians this way? I’m sure that leads to a fair and balanced collection of evidence and issuance of tickets. Why collect data on speeds, cell records, narcotics, road design etc when one can just point at the color of clothing worn by the victim and close the case?
It’s not just him though. His fellow officer sees a solution to the all these killings: tickets…..for pedestrians.
Capt. Andy Hall said the simple solution would be to hold pedestrians accountable. But there’s no hammer to punish them, he said. For
example, red-light runners and drunken drivers face stiff fines. Their
insurance goes up and they might lose their license, Hall said. Pedestrians who put themselves in danger get a jaywalking citation, Hall said. There is no threat of losing a license.
He has ordered his traffic officers to focus on people who jaywalk, ignore “Don’t walk” warnings or dart into traffic.
Clearly jaywalking tickets are the solution to a problem created by a lack of sidewalks, no street lights, and no crosswalks.
No, it’s not the streets with 50mph limits. It’s not like 6 lanes of traffic with nowhere to walk. It’s not the texting or drunk driving. It’s the lack of jaywalking tickets.
And if only pedestrians had licenses….that would solve everything. The threat of losing a license would clearly force the pedestrians to use their teleporting skills to navigate their way around town, instead of the street.
Speaking of those drunk drivers, that apparently get punished….remember the Globe story on the lack of penalties for DUIs? The Fresno Bee should do something similar. Every week they report on 5-15 drivers getting arrested at the one DUI checkpoint for driving drunk. That doesn’t tell us if they’re free to go the very next day or not.
Instead, they published a descriptive list of the fourteen pedestrians killed in 2012. No such list is available for those injured, just killed. While the list details the clothes the pedestrians were wearing (last I checked, no laws on that), it also mentions something about the drivers.
Making the likely assumption that hit and run driver = drunk driver….
The drivers who killed pedestrians were…..
Drunk (no street lights)
Drunk. (no street lights)
Drunk (no street lights)
Not at fault (suicidal pedestrian)
Not drunk (kids)
Not drunk (no street lights)
So 14 pedestrian deaths. In six of them, the driver was drunk or fled. In four of them, there were no street lights. Not mentioned are the cyclists killed, including one the same day the story was published. That was also a hit and run.
Clearly the pattern here is that jaywalking tickets would solve everything.Why design better streets or crack down on reckless driving when blaming the victim is just so easy?