A loyal reader sent this in:
On the night of a full moon this fall my wife was driving west on Robinson shortly after moonrise. She came around one of those blind bends in the road and almost ran over a photographer with a tripod in the middle of the road, obviously attempting to get a good photo of a gorgeous full moon. He was wearing all black – there was no warning that he was in the middle of the road.
One morning shortly afterwards I was standing at the traffic light at Mesa and Baltimore waiting for the ‘walk’ sign to light up – it was around 8 o’clock, in the heart of the morning rush. A gentleman with a cane left the Baltimore side of the intersection while the walk light was flashing red and counting down from 9. Naturally, he didn’t make it all the way across so he was stranded on the median. He waited until the crossing southbound traffic ebbed then continued to cross – against the light.
My mind flashed to the news of the Thanksgiving morning fatality on Mesa just a block south of there, and to the news of the recent conviction of the driver involved in the March 2017 death of a nurse at another nearby intersection.
There have been several pedestrian fatalities in the area and, except for the elderly couple hit in broad daylight while crossing Mesa near the Village Inn, they seem to have several things in common:
- They were late at night or early in the morning,
- The drivers involved some mixture of alcohol, speeding, and/or running red lights.
- The victims had been drinking/partying/celebrating/socializing in the Kern Area.
Our natural reaction is to be outraged at the drunk driver. Obviously we should blame the driver. Let’s also blame the state – Mesa Street is a state highway, they ought to do something. Also, blame the city, the police department should have prevented it.
Where in this discussion does the issue of pedestrian responsibility play?
Many people have proposed solutions, including:
- Narrow Mesa down to one lane each way (forget that it is one of only two alternatives to I-10 when it is congested by an accident).
- Construct a pedestrian bridge (it would have to be ADA compliant and there is little space to work with, but be honest, people probably wouldn’t use it anyway).
- Install speed bumps, or add automatic bollards that pop up when the light is red.
- Increase police presence (and more importantly, increase enforcement).
- Add more lighting.
- Tunnel the road under the area or elevate the road over the area.
- Close the bars.
I offer some things for pedestrians to think about:
- Someone’s Grandma said, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
- Mesa Street is dangerous.
- Dark clothes may be stylish, but they also make you hard to see at night.
- You may be in the right, but you could be dead right.
It is not my intent to blame the victims of the Kern Area pedestrian accidents, or to minimize the recklessness and possible criminality of the drivers. The incidents were tragic; young lives were shortened and the survivors grieve.
Pedestrians in the Kern Area have to be aware that there is danger. If you are crossing Mesa Street on foot, you are playing Frogger and you are potential splatter. Even if you cross at a controlled intersection, with the pedestrian walk light in your favor, it is still dangerous. Watch the traffic, be prepared to evade it.
If pedestrians are not careful, IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.