Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pedestrians need to pay attention

The weather has been pretty nice the past few days. When the weather is good, I try to leave the car in the garage and either walk or ride my bike. On Wednesday, I rode my bike down to Broadway Brewhouse to have some drinks with some friends. On the way I noticed that the average pedestrian is pretty inattentive. My first observation of this was down by the Borders Bookstore on West End. A jogger was listening to her MP3 player so loud that I could hear it over my own (which was being played at a reasonable volume). The girl ran in front of a car that had the right of way and didn’t even know that she almost got hit. All I could do is look at the driver of the car and shrug my shoulders.

Later on my ride, I was heading down the sidewalk (which I will only do on the most congested streets) and saw a guy approaching me from the other direction. As is customary, each of us stayed to our right. This would mean that if we maintained course, when I rode by he would have been on my left. As I got near the guy, he darted into my path, grabbed the bars of a fence, and started staring at a building. The guy was totally oblivious to my presence and probably wouldn’t have even noticed me if he didn’t hear my bike skidding. I glared at him and he gave me a sheepish look.

The final incident was this afternoon when I was coming back from Lunch. I was behind a black hybrid and both of us were waiting to turn left onto Acklen Park Drive. We finally got the green arrow and started making out turn. A couple tried to dart across the intersection (they had long missed the walk sign) and almost got crushed by the hybrid. The hybrid almost got rear ended by me.

I started searching the internet to see if I could get any statistics on how many pedestrians get struck vs. how many bicyclists. Obviously, there are more pedestrians walking the streets than there are cyclists, but the number of incidents was pretty different. In 2007, in the state of Tennessee, there were 1,067 pedestrians involved in accidents vs. only 279 bicyclists. In Davidson County 228 pedestrians were hit compared to only 50 cyclists.

The moral of the story: while pedestrians do have the right of way, a car is typically going to win that battle. Pay attention as you walk and bike the streets.

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