While it is clear that crosswalks must be suitably designed for disabled users, it is equally essential that drivers are always prepared to make it safe for such individuals to cross. Unfortunately, however, far too many drivers are oblivious to the things that require their attention.
A study in the USA found that the fatality rate for people using wheelchairs when crossing roads is 36% higher than for regular pedestrians.
We presume the instruction for pedestrians to ‘wave’ before going over crosswalks in Great Barrington, MA, means they should make eye-contact with the drivers of approaching vehicles. But will it work?
Back in 2004, it was reported in U.S. national media that the “push-to-cross” buttons at most of New York City’s crosswalks were disconnected to prevent pedestrians from interrupting traffic flow, and it has just been revealed that now, in 2018, an even greater proportion of the City’s crosswalks have non-functional buttons.
The stated purpose of delaying pedestrians in this manner is to keep vehicles moving and reduce traffic jams. This may be all well and good when traffic is busy but this approach, when used around the clock, inevitably will annoy pedestrians.
This photograph was submitted to us this morning (together with permission to use it), from New York State, and it shows a pick-up that has stopped in a very bad position at a red light.
We all need to remember that apart from it being illegal to stop *after* the Stop line, it can cause particular danger if the crosswalk is obstructed as a result, as is the case here.
If a pedestrian needs to cross and walks behind the pick-up truck, they will be hidden from the view of any driver that is turning in to this leg of the intersection, and the potential disaster becomes obvious.
Just a few days ago, on June 11, 2018, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas announced a $62 million investment in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, here in our own home state of New York . This multi-agency initiative will include the Department of Health, DMV, Capital District Transportation Authority and local enforcement agencies. This is, of course, to be warmly welcomed, but let’s get straight to the point, the USA has a stunningly bad track record for pedestrian injuries and deaths, with almost exactly six thousand being killed nationwide, and a vastly greater number being injured, during the last statistical year alone.
Poor quality paint is dangerously and very frequently used for pavement markings and crosswalks in the USA, in place of more-expensive but vastly-safer thermoplastic materials which have a high-glass-bead content for excellent reflectivity at night and in bad weather.
In pursuit of Vision Zero, LA is introducing what California (and the USA?) is calling scramble crosswalks, at which all traffic is stopped simultaneously while pedestrians can cross the intersection in any direction, including diagonally.