The end of the beginning: “Blame the road design, not the phone.”


When one’s only strong impression about street design is that it should facilitate his or her rapid passage through populated urban areas, certain nuances are bound to be missed — “steamrolled” might be a better way of putting it.

Here in New Albany, two-way streets are being put into service this month without the ballyhooed “enhanced” crosswalks being finished. The first such crosswalk was installed earlier this year at Main at W. 1st following a period of years during which City hall insisted it couldn’t be done.

ASK THE BORED: Tucson’s first rainbow crosswalk — and we get stuck with dozens of lousy anchors enabled by municipal cowardice.

CM David Barksdale added that in his experience, the flashing lights not only fail to make an impression on drivers far too busy checking their iPhones, but also taper off too quickly once daring walkers have waded into the street.

Allow me to add that if solar-activated yellow flashing lights do not convince drivers to yield to pedestrians, soon-to-be ubiquitous sharrow symbols painted on streets do not convince drivers to share space with bicyclists.

Except that Main Street really hasn’t been calmed in terms of design, has it?

With everything being done to encourage humans to pass on foot from the south side to the north side, and vice versa, Main Street remains a high-speed wasteland of automobile-centric design all the way from the sewage treatment plant to the beginning of the beautification area on Mansion Row.

The enhanced crosswalk at W. 1st is pleasant enough, but until street design on both sides supports its use — and assuming drivers give a damn — it’s a very small pleasantry, indeed.

Just remember: The current realization of two-way streets and improved street design is not the end of a necessary adjustment to New Albany’s auto-centric streets.

It’s just the end of the beginning. Note that yet another media source blames the car for the accident .. not the driver.

BLAME THE ROAD DESIGN, NOT THE PHONE, by Rachel Quednau (Strong Towns)

In one of many recent news stories on “distracted walking,” WPVI-TV Philadelphia reports that a “girl chatting on FaceTime [was] struck and critically injured by [a] car in Abington.” As Lloyd Alter, writing for TreeHugger, summarizes it:

There was a serious crash recently near Philadelphia; a fourteen year old girl was crossing a street in a crosswalk, in a school zone, with signs posted on posts and tent signs all over the place saying that pedestrians have right of way. There are no trees, no obstructions, no reason whatsoever that the driver couldn’t see that there was a pedestrian.

And yet, unsurprisingly, the WPVI-TV article focuses almost solely on the fact that the now-critically injured girl was on her iPhone when she was hit and implies that she is to blame for her injuries. In the 27-sentence article, there are only two mentions of the driver who struck this high schooler—one to explain that the driver stopped the car after the crash and the other mentioning that “no charges have been filed at this time.”

In the article, we read about how bystanders dutifully called 911, how first responders rushed the girl to the hospital, and even how school counselors “have been made available to her peers.” However, nowhere do we read that local officials are reassessing the design of the road on which this crash occurred to prevent future crashes from happening …