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Thursday, August 27, 2015

All too Common Scene in Nashville - The Issue with Right Turns

All too common scene in Nashville:  picture a beautiful day.  Woman walking briskly down the street approaching an intersection.  White car, also moving briskly down the street in the same direction (same side of the street).  Walker starts to cross the street - takes one step off the curb as she is going straight through the intersection.  Woman in white car turns right, directly in front of the pedestrian (who has already taken a step into the road).  Walker leaps backwards and throws up her arms.   White car continues her turn and then pulls into near by parking lot.   


Yield to walkers when turning your vehicle.
Right turns are particularly problamatic, most notably at green lights, as both the walker and the driver are getting the walk sign and green light respectively.

Me:  ' Excuse me, sorry to bother you, I volunteer with a walking advocacy group (Walk Bike Nashville) and I noticed that you turned directly in front of that woman back there trying to cross the street'.

Woman in the White Car: 'Oh, I just thought she was standing on the corner'.

Me: (under my breath) 'Who just stands on a corner'?  (more audibly) 'No, she was trying to cross and you turned directly in front of her.  I just wanted you to know that she had the right-of-way'.

Woman in the White Car:  'I thought I had the right-of-way since I was driving'.

Me: 'No, the pedestrian always has the right-of-way'.


I would argue that Nashville needs 2 things desperately:

1.  Drivers need to know the law.  
---If a pedestrian is in the road, you are to yield to them.  It is a drivers job to anticipate the moves of pedestrians.  Think about it:  in regards to safety, as a driver, you are thousands of pounds of metal hurtling through space with the only effort being putting your foot on the gas.  A walker, is skin and bones and is locomoting by their own muscle.  Be aware of them!  Give them space!  Yield to them!  Anticipate their movements!  If they are walking briskly towards a corner, expect that they are crossing and slow down!
---Improved knowledge of the law could be accomplished by an agressive public awareness campaign
---This should also be a significant part of the exam to get a license

2. Drivers should be ticketed if they endanger or hinder pedestrians
 ---Now, I am not talking about risky moves made by pedestrians such as darting out from inbetween cars.  This is definitely the action of someone who is taking a big chance that a driver will see them and be able to slow.  
---That being said, if you are driving in a residential neighborhood or active business district with obvious pedestrians (i.e.:  people walking, signs that say Drive Like Your Children (or Pet) Live Here) - drivers should expect pedestrians and slow down!  This kind of activity is fair warning that a driver needs to be on high alert.
---Drivers should be ticketed for not using their turn signals at intersections as this limits communication between the driver and the pedestrian (and is the law)
---Drivers should be ticketed for driving too fast when pedestrians are present (this is also the law)
---Drivers should be ticketed for parking in crosswalks (this is, yet again, the law)
---Drivers should be ticketed if they do not yield to pedestrians.  A major job of anyone behind the wheel is to be observant and anticipate the moves of others (particularly vulnerable pedestrians!  Once more, the law people)
---One thing that should be added to the law:  giving pedestrians 3'  of space (at least) if they are in the road without proper pedestrian infrastructure (this is critical in Nashville!)

I watched a man out walking his dog have to wiggle around this vehicle in the middle of the crosswalk and peer around the trailer in order to cross safely.  Like a fire hydrant, you cannot park in or near a crosswalk.  It is a drivers job to know this!

If you see something like this PLEASE call non-emergency police and they can come out and ticket.  If enough people call, we can raise needed awareness and start chipping away at this very important barrier to walkability in Nashville.

---One quick note to pedestrians:  you are supposed to walk AGAINST traffic if on a road without sidewalks for your safety!

  Shade Parade Nashville advocates for better walkability mostly through high quality well designed sidewalk infrastructure. 

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