Streetsblog.net

The Blame Game

Today on the Network, Ohio member blog Xing Columbus questions a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch
that attributes Franklin County pedestrian fatalities to carelessness
on the part of the victim. According to a Columbus police officer
interviewed in the story, local people killed by cars are usually
jaywalking or "just walking in the road" — where "you might not see a
person until you’re right on top of them."

ohioped.jpgPhoto: Columbus Dispatch

Even if all the statements are true, I didn’t like the tone of the
article. It seemed like pedestrians were being blamed for their own
deaths. One might think that the driver of a vehicle capable of
killing someone might be held responsible for hitting people in the
roadway at least some of the time.

Xing
Columbus wonders if local police have data to back up their claims, as
none was cited in the article. An August 13 editorial in the Sacramento Bee,
however, points to a study from the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center
showing that "more than 80 percent of crosswalk collisions are related
to driver behavior."

So some skepticism is in order when drivers say, "the pedestrian ran
(darted, dashed) in front of me" or "came out of nowhere" — especially
when the pedestrian is unconscious (or dead), and there are no
witnesses at the scene.

Regardless
of statistics, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that, by inserting
themselves into the domain of cars and drivers, pedestrians and
cyclists are asking for it.

Not that further proof is needed, but if you really want to get worked up, have a look at the comments on a weekend pedestrian fatality in Athens, Georgia. As friends of the victim expressed their condolences to his family, one Athens Banner-Herald reader wrote:

Why
is it that everyone can show sympathy to the person who caused the
accident but no one seems concerned with the real victim in all of this
– the driver who had to watch someone basically commit suicide on the
front bumper of his vehicle? My heart goes out to that driver. That
must have been a horrible situation to be forced into.

Also today: Streetsblog San Francisco reports that the looming BART strike was averted over the weekend; The Wash Cycle has an update on what was once called "The Stupidest Bike Lane in America"; and Bike Portland marks another successful Sunday Parkways event.