Being a pedestrian is more dangerous than it should be

This is a land use blog. But land use affects transportation. And this is a pedestrian’s response to City Tank’s “Why more people don’t ride bikes” post. The fact is that being a pedestrian is pretty harrowing too. Much of that has to do with land use decisions. I’ve written already about the pyramid we should be using to guide our land use decisions when they affect transportation.

I’m a walker and a runner. I did commute to work on a bike for a time, but when my job and my home got closer together, I realized it was much faster to walk. But walking and running in this town means being something of a bull fighter with cars. I’m not as brilliant a film maker as my buddy Dan, but here’s a couple vids that hint at what I am talking about.

I know, you’re motion sick if you watched. But I was running and had to cross Olive. It’s not easy to see, but cars don’t get that intersections–all intersections–require yielding to pedestrians. Marked or unmarked these are crosswalks. In this case, the crossing was not marked. You also can’t hear the little tire squeal. The guy in the truck had to apply quite a bit of brake.

Here is a great new crosswalk on Olive. Anyone using it will tell you, though, that you can’t count on cars stopping. Cars are climbing the hill and they are in a hurry.

The lady in the gray car stopped but just barely. And she wasn’t happy. I had someone yell at me, at this cross walk, “Fuck you for not looking!” I have no idea what the guy was talking about. Maybe he was having a bad day. But drivers of cars get really annoyed when they almost run you down in a marked crosswalk.

There is also a lot of crap on the sidewalk. Here’s another video of my run today. A van is blocking the sidewalk, which means I have to get into the street.

I don’t think the guy who parked the van here had a permit. But it’s hard to make that point when you’re running. And it really woudn’t matter anyway.

Here’s more crap in the way.



The problem is that all this crap is legal and permitted. In fact, lots of times there is a surly cop near the “Sidewalk Closed” signs ready to yell and write tickets if you try to get around the blockage without crossing to the other side of the street. That seems stupid. Why not have the cop help me get safely around while he stops cars for me. We need to fix that.

Later in the day my friend Eric and I took a stroll through Pike Place Market and talked about taxes and walking. Check out the street food and class action law suit. I had a hum-bow that probably added the same number of calories I burned on my run.

The relationship between cars and people in the market is sane and appropriate. I’m still not sure why we don’t just close this to cars, but it doen’t seem to matter when it comes to how easy it is to walk there.

Riding a bike can be dangerous, but walking isn’t, well, a walk in the park either. It shouldn’t be that way. I don’t know if requires a war on cars or not. But the basic principle is that people should take precedence over bikes, bikes over transit and trucks, and trucks and transit over cars. Cars are at the bottom of the pyramid. This way of thinking about the world isn’t going to happen over night. But today is a good day to get started. There is still time to check out Feet First’s walk and talk tonight and let City Councilmember Sally Clark know what you think.

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4 Responses to Being a pedestrian is more dangerous than it should be

  1. Pingback: Chapter 23.61 Station Area Overlay District: Not enough for TOD | Seattle's Land Use Code

  2. Matt the Engineer says:

    Did you catch Dan’s post a few years back? The day pedestrians reclaimed 1st.

    From comments: “We will drive those two-ton machines of death out of our streets one lane at a time, even if it means using our soft bodies (and those of our families) to do so. Eventually They Will Learn.”

    Kind of reminds me of Tiananmen Square. Less like a War on Cars and more like Civil Disobedience on Cars.

  3. Pingback: Pedestrian safety: That’s the way I like it! | Seattle's Land Use Code

  4. Pingback: Density’s Golden Rule: Yield Unto Others - Seattle Transit Blog

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