Monday, October 10, 2011

Teenage student hit by car, guess who gets the blame

Last Thursday, a teenage girl was hit by a car at 6:30am while walking to her local bus stop.

Police are still trying to piece together what happened. They said incident happened just before sunrise and witnesses say the road was dark which may have contributed to the crash.

The Central High East student attempted to cross Brawley Avenue to get to a bus stop near her house. Neighbor Jeffrey Holland said he was riding his bike home from a nearby shopping center when the girl was struck near the center-divide.

"I was coming around the corner from the recycling base, heard a boom -- and the paramedics were there quick," said Jeffrey Holland, "The windshield was blown in the car, roof was smashed back, the doors were popped open, it looked really bad."
ABC 30

Like most articles about pedestrians or cyclists being hit, the details are vague. I can't find a single other news outlet reporting the story, and the Fresno PD website is no help at all.

According to a witness, visibility was a factor

Holland said the street was dark and the driver may not have seen the girl crossing the road. He said thieves recently stripped the street lights of copper wire and several of the bulbs were out at the time of the accident.

Action News: "Do you think it's a safety concern?

Holland: "Oh yeah. No doubt. They have been out three times. They rewire them, then they're out again."

I have no doubt on his statement. Copper theft is running rampant, and apparently nobody has had the inspiration to design a streetlight in which the copper is inaccessible to thieves. Based on the amount of thefts around town, I'd assume that stealing the copper wire is as easy as loading a cart at the Home Depot.

However, this does raise a few questions:

1) If street lights are so critical to safety and visibility, why aren't they fixed faster? Why isn't copper theft being pursued to a greater extent? People are literally being run over because of these thieves. Aren't they accessories to this?

2) Why don't our lighting systems have redundancies built in? Currently, streetlights are set apart very far apart, so if one dies, the entire road goes dark. In this case, only one side of the road has light.


Mind you, it's not like a lack of lighting excuses unsafe driving. Isn't there that rule that you should never outdrive your headlights?


But that's not the problem with this report. You know how every single report about a bike collisions mentions whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not? This article posed no such question about the sobriety of the driver. Or the speed. Reading the description of the car after the collision, it's clear the driver was going at a good clip.


Instead, Fresno PD is quick to lay all blame on the victim, and really, all pedestrians.


While Fresno Police work to determine who was at fault and whether the lack of lighting contributed to the crash, Sgt. Richard Tucker wants to remind pedestrians to take precautions to keep themselves safe.

"Walking in the roadway is not a place to walk, we're asking pedestrians to cross at the intersection, to push the button and wait for it to say walk. And of course the cross walk isn't always a safe zone. We're asking you always look both ways before you cross the road," said Sgt. Tucker.

First of all....walking in the roadway is not a place to walk...? Do you propose pedestrians teleport across roads? Do we use the mythical underground tunnel system? How about the fact that just feet from the scene, there are zero sidewalks? Where would one walk if not the roadway?

And Sargent, do you understand what California law says about intersections...?

Here is what the INTERSECTION of Brawley and Weldon looks like. That's right Sgt, according to California law, this is an intersection. And just because the city couldn't be bothered to paint crosswalks, doesn't mean there aren't three legal crosswalks here.

Photobucket

Sargent Tucker, where are these mythical push buttons you talk about?

Photobucket

Of course, I can see why the officer is confused. The intersection is far from ADA compliant, as the sidewalk on the east side simply ends, and the sidewalk on the west side ends a few yards down.

Wonder if the student, in her wheelchair, will be suing the city for the ADA violation...?

Photobucket



Now, I don't know exactly where the bus stops, but as the school is north of this location, the bus would be traveling north on the east side of the road, so this student crosses here every single day. She probably did look both ways, but perhaps she didn't expect the vehicle would be moving so quickly.

Was any investigation done as to the speed of the car? The article doesn't say anything about the driver, the speed of the vehicle, or really, any of those pesky details.


Also, Sgt. Richard Tucker, as a favor, I've rewritten your statement so it makes more sense.

Sgt. Richard Tucker wants to remind drivers to take precautions to keep their fellow citizens safe.

"Driving in the roadway is not a license to kill, we're asking drivers to not outdrive their headlights, to slow down when visibility is poor. And of course the lit area isn't always a safe zone. We're asking you always scan side to side while driving" said Sgt. Tucker


Much better.



The article then ends with this

In this case the girl survived, but Tucker said there were 10 pedestrian related fatalities in the city last year and Fresno is on pace to exceed that number this year. He said officers with the traffic division will continue monthly operations focusing on pedestrians to drive that number down.

Yes, that's right Fresno PD. Ticketing pedestrians is the right thing to do. Not the drivers of the fast vehicles, it's the pedestrians that must be ticketed. After all, every time one of them gets run over, it's such a damned nuisance. Delays car traffic and all.



On a final note, I tried to find the exact location of the bus stop, but the Central Unified School District website was of no help at all. The list of "proposed" bus stops is clearly not complete, and they offer no bus maps on their website.

4 comments:

  1. Never ignore road signs and drive safely always!

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  2. I found something else on glary lighting. This time it relates to commercial lot lighting. Go down to 'See What's Lit, Not the Light.'

    http://physics.fau.edu/observatory/lightpol-econ.html

    As you can see keeping pole height down, using appropriate fixture intensity, and cut-off lights can all go a long way towards making our avenues more approachable and visible at night. Certain cities even have strict regulations on keeping stray light from businesses from entering the street. It happens during the development process in which the developer has to prove how he intends to keep stray light at bay. It's done,more often then not, with the Kennebunkport formula for property lighting.

    Now one thing you may think is bad but isn't is the light intensity and how its not completely even. That's actually not bad thing. Adjusting light levels, having slightly dark and brighter areas, helps to add depth to our 3-D world. Uniformity only becomes issue when grossly inappropriate light outputs combines with low pole mounting heights to create deep pools of light.

    I wanted to mention this because one quote from here caught my attention.

    http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id=9331124#comment-1131900502

    "There's a lot of glare at night driving. People are harder to see. "

    As I've shown, it doesn't have to be that way, and it shouldn't be that way. It's just that we been so exposed to bad lighting examples, floodlights of many types, un-sheilded acorns, and non-cut off cobra heads, we assume this has to be the only way.

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    Replies
    1. You asked me recently about the worst lit streets in Fresno...

      The other day I noticed not a single street light was working on ventura for 1-2 miles. From downtown eastwards. Also many downtown lights continue to be off.

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    2. Wow. I think I`m begining to appreciate how bad things are. Were, at least, the intersection lights on? A single intersection has over thirty two possible vehicle conflict points. That`s not counting pedestrain conflict points. Oncoming headlights also have a veiling effect on visibility of oncoming drivers. The veiling effect is basically our eyes adapting to higher light levels of an area like a brightly area in front of a car at night by constricting. When our eyes constrict we have all the more difficulty trying to see our surroundings. A well designed streetlighting system can eliminate this issue by lighting the entire street up to such levels that headlights are basically washed out. I wish some of that bond measure c money would go to serious streetlighting projects.



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