St. Paul is not a pedestrian-friendly city. An average of one pedestrian is struck by a vehicle every other day. If you walk the streets of the city, you’re probably surprised the number isn’t higher.
On the way out of downtown last night, with the rain pouring down, I noticed pedestrians were literally running for their lives at virtually every intersection, battling the rain and the need of drivers to get where they going, pedestrians be damned.
But who hasn’t been in the position that a driver was in last night when a woman and her mother were crossing the intersection at Kellogg and Mulberry Street?
On a four-lane road, with people crossing from right to left and you in the right lane, it’s easy to see the people starting to cross the street in the crosswalk. If you’re a conscientious and courteous driver — and far too few drivers in St. Paul are; just ask anyone who’s ever stepped into a crosswalk — you stop.
The conscientious driver did just did just what s(he) should have last night. But the driver of a car in the left lane didn’t see why s(he) had stopped and hit both pedestrians, killing the daughter.
Perhaps you, like me, have been in this situation before. I’ve been powerless to alert the oncoming car of the pedestrians my car hid from their view. My attempts to alert the pedestrians were usually misinterpreted. Then I struggle with the reality that if I hadn’t stopped and observed the rule of the road, maybe the near tragedy that had just occurred wouldn’t have happened.
In the end, only one person in this scenario can prevent such an incident; the driver of the car in the left lane can be more curious about why the car in the right lane stopped in the middle of the road, slow down and prepare for the possibility that someone is in the crosswalk, which — for the record — is impossible to see in St. Paul in the heavy rain and glare of street lights.
The police announced last night they’re going to start a pedestrian safety campaign, a promise that periodically arises in the city and never seems to have much effect.
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