Seattle pedestrians remain an impetuous lot

Seattle pedestriansSeattle is pushing plans to lower speed limits across the city, a bid to make the streets a little safer for pedestrians. The theory is that a pedestrian hit by a car has a better change of surviving if the car is going slower.

Fair enough. But to my thinking, a significant contributing factor is the large number of pedestrians who cross streets without first looking left and right like their mamas told them to. Washington State law says persons on foot have the right of way at intersections whether there is a marked crosswalk or not. That’s fine. But a routine quick glance in both directions would bring the risk of getting hit (or killed) down to just about zero.

I have written about this before, suggesting there might be some kind of anti-car political motivation in liberal Seattle. That remains my view when I see pedestrians put down their heads and almost make an I-dare-you show of staring straight ahead as they march across a busy street.

Nearly four years after becoming New To Seattle, I still think the city has the craziest pedestrians I have seen in this country.  I regularly witness examples of what I regard as those on foot simply not watching out for themselves. Among the worst offenders in my experience remain the brainiacs working at the Amazon.com warren of headquarters buildings in South Lake Union. They scurry across Terry Avenue N and other narrow streets seemingly without a worry like the dungeness crabs they like to scarf down after work.

Another contributing factor is widespread pedestrian use of cellphones as the pedestrians cross streets. This is hardly unique to Seattle, except people here are among the country’s most educated. Concentrating on a tiny screen while entering a busy thoroughfare and not looking each way: What possibly could go wrong?

The result of all this is sort of a shooting gallery on the streets of Seattle. Measuring the frequency of car accidents, which presumably include those involving pedestrians, Allstate Insurance says local drivers are among the very worst in the country. On a list of the country’s 200 largest cities, the Good Hands folks rank Seattle No. 177 (No. 1 means the best drivers, No. 200 the worst). From what I can see, in-car cell-phone-holding-and-use bears much of the blame here, too.

With that kind of documented incompetence behind the wheel, Seattle pedestrians should be on notice to keep a sharp look-out. To me, that’s simple common sense. But in famously unchurched Seattle, locals on foot are taking an awful lot on faith.

I’m sorry, but right-of-way or not, some victims need to share the blame. Darwin was on to something.

Follow William P. Barrett’s work on Twitter by clicking here.

Share on Facebook

Comments

Seattle pedestrians remain an impetuous lot — 5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Cellphone use by Seattle drivers still a big problem - New To Seattle

  2. The newcomers are a pretty selfish bunch. Pedestrians have the right of way. Period. At an intersection, the car to the right has the right of way. When you see a pedestrian, press on the pedal on the left. The car will stop.

    Your goal: find a person you know that is genuinely from Seattle.

    • I’m not disputing the pedestrian right-of-way issue at intersections, but rather the lack by many pedestrians of common sense. When I’m operating a car stopped at a light, and the light turns green, I have the right-of-way. But I always pause a half-second and look left and right to make sure that some driver on the cross street isn’t trying to run the light. Why isn’t that good advice for pedestrians?

  3. I have GOT to stop opening your notifications at work, Barrett. Each time I do, I fall down the rabbit hole and start reading old entries and comment threads. The boss would not be happy. (Oh wait, I’m the boss!). Keep up the good work, Kelley

Leave a Reply