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The Blame Game

11:35 AM EDT on August 17, 2009

Today on the Network, Ohio member blog Xing Columbus questions a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch that attributes Franklin County pedestrian fatalities to carelessness on the part of the victim. According to a Columbus police officer interviewed in the story, local people killed by cars are usually jaywalking or "just walking in the road" -- where "you might not see a person until you’re right on top of them."

ohioped.jpg(Photo: Columbus Dispatch)

Even if all the statements are true, I didn’t like the tone of the
article. It seemed like pedestrians were being blamed for their own
deaths. One might think that the driver of a vehicle capable of
killing someone might be held responsible for hitting people in the
roadway at least some of the time.

Xing Columbus wonders if local police have data to back up their claims, as none was cited in the article. An August 13 editorial in the Sacramento Bee, however, points to a study from the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center showing that "more than 80 percent of crosswalk collisions are related to driver behavior."

So some skepticism is in order when drivers say, "the pedestrian ran(darted, dashed) in front of me" or "came out of nowhere" -- especiallywhen the pedestrian is unconscious (or dead), and there are nowitnesses at the scene.

Regardless of statistics, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that, by inserting themselves into the domain of cars and drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are asking for it.

Not that further proof is needed, but if you really want to get worked up, have a look at the comments on a weekend pedestrian fatality in Athens, Georgia. As friends of the victim expressed their condolences to his family, one Athens Banner-Herald reader wrote:

Why is it that everyone can show sympathy to the person who caused theaccident but no one seems concerned with the real victim in all of this -- the driver who had to watch someone basically commit suicide on thefront bumper of his vehicle? My heart goes out to that driver. Thatmust have been a horrible situation to be forced into.

Also today: Streetsblog San Francisco reports that the looming BART strike was averted over the weekend; The Wash Cycle has an update on what was once called "The Stupidest Bike Lane in America"; and Bike Portland marks another successful Sunday Parkways event.

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