The “distracted pedestrian” is a myth, but distracted engineers and planners are another topic.


Kudos to David Aebersold for broaching the topic of pedestrian safety during last Thirsday’s city council meeting. Dan Coffey and Greg Phipps chimed in, and Phipps mentioned the scant slowing of traffic occurring since last year’s paving project disguised as street grid reform.

Recalling my recent chat with HWC Engineering’s Jim Rice, when Rice seemed proudest of HWC’s achievement in keeping the heavy trucks rolling through residential neighborhoods, perhaps Phipps at long last is beginning to see that without Jeff Speck’s principled approach to comprehensive street grid reform, two-way automotive friction alone cannot magically produce slowing or walkability — and the majority of bicycle-friendly design components never made it past Jeff Gahan’s ingrained (but highly monetized) cowardice.

I intend to attend tomorrow morning’s Bored of Works meeting, which Aebersold and Bob Caesar vowed to attend.

Why the ‘distracted pedestrian’ is a myth, by Alissa Walker (Curbed)

Most walkers are not texting when crossing streets, says a new study

Pedestrian deaths have hit a three-decade high in the U.S., prompting some cities to mount campaigns warning walkers to put down their phones and pay more attention. But some compelling new research reveals that pedestrians probably aren’t texting themselves to death.

While the term “distracted walking” has become a way to pin the blame on pedestrians for supposedly looking at their devices instead of the sidewalk, there hasn’t been much evidence provided to prove smartphone-using walkers are at fault when collisions occur. In fact, most states don’t even include pedestrian behavior as a factor in crash reports.

But a new study published by a group of Northern Arizona University engineering professors in Transportation Research Record looked at how 3,038 people used crosswalks in New York City and Flagstaff, Arizona, and concluded that a large majority of pedestrians—86.5 percent—did not exhibit “distracted” behavior …