urbanism – landscape – ideas – theory – whimsy

Pedestrian Advocacy Gone Wrong

Take it to Make It curb cut, Kirkland, Washington (Photo: EPA Smart Growth)

What on earth is going on in this small city (Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle) in Washington State? So much for West Coast cities having a reputation for being progressive: Kirkland has somehow decided that the best way to handle pedestrian injuries and deaths at pedestrian crossings is to place yellow flags at each side of the street for the pedestrians to carry and hold out as they cross the street! What? Yeah, read that again. The name of the campaign? Take it to Make It! As it says on some of the buckets of flags, “62 people have been injured or killed in crosswalks in Kirkland. Not carrying a flag: 62. Carrying a flag: 0.” Errr… what?

Is the implication that somehow a pedestrian who gets hit not carrying a flag is at fault? Or that someone carrying two shopping bags doesn’t deserve to be as safe on a crosswalk as someone with a free hand to hold a flag? Are you kidding me? What is the point of having a crosswalk at all if you’re going to shift all the responsibility for pedestrian safety onto the pedestrian? Do all pedestrians need to wear bright fluorescent vests in order to not be at fault if hit while crossing the street? At least if they wore a vest they wouldn’t have to hold these stupid flags! Is EPA’s Smart Growth program really using this as a good precedent for smart growth?

Take it to Make It pedestrian crossing, Kirkland, Washington (Photo: EPA Smart Growth)

Take it to Make It pedestrian flags, Kirkland, Washington (Photo: EPA Smart Growth)

Take it to Make It pedestrian flags, Kirkland, Washington (Photo: EPA Smart Growth)

6 Comments so far
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Yeh, this is stupid. They have these in Salt Lake City and they’re too dorky for words. How about some zebra striping like in England, or rumble strips, yellow flashing lights, cops on the beat, or something else that is the responsibility of the driver? How about tickets for driving while using a phone? “Take it to make it?!” What is this, a DMZ, mine field, stampede? This is a non-starter. Leave the flags in Salt Lake City.

This could be fodder for a very funny YouTube video of creative ways to make it across the street alive: one-man band, ride a camel, big bunch of balloons, twirler flares, blaze orange attire….

I was just in Mexico City. They know how to slow traffic down there. Their speed bumps and raised crosswalks really do the trick. Traffic has to slow down to 5 or 10 km/h to navigate them. Sounds like Kirkland could use some of these and ditch the dorky flags.

I live in Japan and they have these on the roads near elementary schools for the kids to use when going to and from school. Maybe that’s where the idea came from?

This is a joke put there by some Microsoftees with too much time on their hands. Right?

You must remember this is Kirkland WA. Recently a man was killed in a crosswalk there. The driver was not cited with anything because she said she couldn’t see the person walking in the crosswalk. And she was stopped at a stop sign. No, I’m not kidding. http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2015/01/30/no-charges-for-person-who-killed-man-walking-his-dog-in-a-kirkland-crosswalk/

Most Washington police departments have entirely abandoned enforcement of the Basic Speed Law. Regardless of the posted maximum speed, the law says every driver must drive slowly enough to avoid hitting any lawful road user.

On a dark rainy night, if a pedestrian in dark clothes steps into a crosswalk, the law says you’re supposed to be driving slowly enough to stop for her, even if the street is posted 35 mph and you’d rather be driving 50.

But having laws on the books is no good if police won’t cite, prosecutors won’t charge, and judges won’t convict.

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