Letters to the Editor

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TRAFFIC: Protect nonmotorized commuters

Letter by Janet H. Higbee, Tacoma on Feb. 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm | 33 Comments »
February 28, 2011 1:56 pm

I’m grateful to the state Senate and Cascade Bike Club for Senate Bill 5326, which penalizes motorists should they injure pedestrians and cyclists. Our nation’s “Complete Streets” movement seeks to accommodate nonmotorized commuters, so this legislation is timely.

Roads have not been built only for drivers but for horses, walkers and dogs, cyclists and, recently, wheelchair users. The carbon mobile will be replaced because we have consumed beyond peak oil.

Yes, the car provides convenience, but increasing numbers of vehicles idle in traffic, wasting time and fuel. Meanwhile, walkers and cyclists move forward, exercising and doing their best to breathe clean air. If we want our cities to be for people before cars, we will welcome legislation that protects nonmotorists. Pedestrians and cyclists pay for roads and have a right to use them.

Pedestrians must be allowed to cross streets safely rather than fight or run across. Countless times, as a pedestrian, I find myself waving at drivers impatient to make their “free right,” gesturing to the walk sign and waiting until they see me, before I dare cross. Neverthless, some drivers turn in front of me.

Once I am certain cars won’t hit me, the flashing symbol appears and my chance is gone. What about the elderly, the visually impaired or childrun, who may not behave as defensively?

Motorists, instead of ignoring or resenting pedestrians, could see that we represent less congestion. Bill 5326 ensures that “free rights” will cost motorists more, should they injure one of us.

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