If you are a pedestrian crossing the road and get hit by a car, it is apparently your fault. This morning the herald came up with this beauty:
Failure to pay attention to vehicles is the cause of most intersection accidents involving pedestrians.
Crossing the road is among the most dangerous of everyday activities – and police say even the slightest loss of concentration could have disastrous, if not fatal, results.
More than 700 pedestrians have been hit by cars at Auckland intersections over the past four years, and most victims were not paying attention to vehicles around them, distracted by cellphones or music players or succumbing to their own impatience.
The intersection of Albert and Victoria Streets is said to be the worst, and of course it is the pedestrian’s fault for either not paying attention or taking unnecessary risks. What I find frustrating is that there seems to be no thought given as to why pedestrians are so willing to step out in front of moving vehicles. Is it that while waiting for their turn to cross they hear the buzzer go off for a different leg of the intersection? Is the risk-taking due to ridiculously long vehicle phases? There also seems to be little questioning of the role that vehicles have to play – almost every time I go to the Albert/Victoria St intersection there are drivers who are running red or late yellow lights, or trying to drive through pedestrians that are crossing. My wife has had some close calls at this intersection due to careless drivers, whose only concerns are getting to the next set of lights a few seconds faster.
In other threads on this subject we tend to get a lot of debate from some engineers, saying that they design streets and intersections to follow ‘the standard’ and whose only consideration is about maximum throughput (of both cars and pedestrians). They go as far as saying that we should only look to increase pedestrian priority when we get more pedestrians, but what they often fail to realise is that we won’t get more pedestrians until the priority for them improves. It’s a kind of logic that gets us stuck going round in circles. What we need to do is look at what the best cities internationally do and learn from them, while at the same time recognising that the primary way to get around the city centre is by walking.