Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seattle Peds Better Behaved Than Spokane's?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Don't let laws go unenforced

Although my office is in downtown Spokane, I'm frequently in downtown Seattle. The difference in pedestrian behavior is striking.

I've seldom driven through downtown Spokane without seeing someone just walk right into the street on a red light. In Seattle, it's rare to see anyone cross on a red light, even if there is no traffic. Locals will tell you that you'll get at least a $50 ticket for doing that.

I finally understood why Spokane has such a problem with pedestrian bad behavior when I saw the letter from Jeff Harvey, vice president of the Spokane Police Guild ("Keep ticket books holstered," May 8). Mr. Harvey felt it necessary to inform everyone that most Spokane Police Guild members believe it unnecessary to enforce the pedestrian laws.

There's a big difference between using discretion when viewing a violation and telling people outright that tickets will not be issued for a violation. We have enough problems with people not taking responsibility for their own actions – either enforce the law or repeal the law, but please don't just ignore it.

E. David Sani

Do you agree with Mr. Sani? Do Spokane pedestrians take it for granted that they won't be punished (besides being hit by a car) for jaywalking?


Unknown said...

With my comment I don't mean to encourage unsafe behavior, such as stepping in front of moving vehicles and bikes.

However, I'd note that in any large city I've ever visited, pedestrians own a much bigger chunk of the pavement in general, and freely cross against lights if there are no cars coming. This keeps the masses of people moving--and the purpose of a transportation system is to move PEOPLE, not just cars.

I would hope for more attentive drivers in general who are attuned to the possibility that a walker or cyclist might be sharing the road in some way.

With my recent visible activities on behalf of bike commuting, I've become the recipient of lots of comments about "bad cyclists" who do illegal or unsafe things. They gave those of us who follow traffic laws the way we should a bad name, and I don't condone or endorse their behavior.

I do wonder, though, why it is that seeing a cyclist or two behave badly leads to a generalization about "those unsafe cyclists." The comments about "bad pedestrians" sound similar.

Every single day I see drivers behaving unsafely: blowing through red lights, executing a rolling stop, changing lanes and cutting people off, failing to signal, and on and on. Why don't we have sweeping condemnation of "all drivers" based on the actions of a few?


SRTC Staff said...

I think we DO have sweeping condemnation of drivers to a certain degree Barb. Last time I was in Seattle and mentioned where I'm from, someone said, 'That's where no one stops for red lights.' Seems like you can't win sometimes; if it's not bad drivers, pedestrians, or bikers, it's the bad condition of the roads we're known for. Sigh...

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SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

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