The Joys and Pitfalls of a Walkable Community

Georgia Ragland

By: Georgia Ragland on May 29, 2012 Print This Post

Kirkwood is eminently walkable. People are always commenting to me how great it is to walk the beautiful tree-lined streets. There are tons of people out walking in the downtown of an evening or on the weekend. The City has made a significant investment in sidewalks throughout the community and made them ADA compliant.

What that means is that there is a lot of pedestrian traffic in Kirkwood, particularly now that the weather is nice. People are out walking, jogging, pushing strollers, pulling on leashes, talking on cell phones, listening to music, and talking to friends and neighbors. What does that mean for us as drivers?

On a trip to Alaska, I visited a small town where large cruise ships dock and more passengers disembark from one ship than live in the town. I was impressed at how consistently drivers immediately stopped and waited for anyone who even looked like they were thinking about crossing a street. It’s polite, and certainly good business in a place where tourism really is the town’s lifeblood. Another way to look at it is that it is a matter of life or death.  The NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) reports that in 2009, 59,000 pedestrians were involved in traffic accidents in this country. Of those, 13,000 were age 14 and younger. More than 4,000 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents annually.

A Website, walkinginfo.org, provides some key messages for drivers.

  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked. Yield to pedestrians when making right or left turns at intersections.
  • Don’t assume that pedestrians see you or will act predictably.
  • Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at STOP signs.
  • When turning, be aware that while you have waited and watched for a “gap” in traffic, pedestrians may have moved into your intended path. Double-check before you turn.
  • You can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere.
  • In most states, every intersection is a legal crosswalk, whether marked as a crosswalk or not.

Probably the best piece of advice I saw on this Website is to drive as you would want drivers to drive in front of your home. So, let’s remember we are driving vehicles that can easily hurt or kill and that pedestrians are not only vulnerable, they always have the right-of-way. And occasionally leave your vehicle at home, and get on out there and experience the joys of being a pedestrian in Kirkwood.


 

Georgia Ragland

Written by Georgia Ragland

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