Submitted by Kurt Thigpen
We’ve all seen the headlines over the last few months. A student at Wooster High School killed in a hit and run incident while crossing the street. People getting mowed down in the crosswalk (both at night and during the day) in downtown Reno, just steps from City Hall. A cyclist walking his bike across the street on Lakeside Drive and getting hit and killed by a drunk driver in the middle of the day.
Pedestrian fatalities are nothing new for the Biggest Little City, but it does feel like it’s something that’s increasing, especially as our population continues to grow. We have more people out on the street walking, biking and driving than ever before.
When the Wooster incident happened, my heart sank as my sister-in-law, who is a teenager, goes to that school. My instinct was to do something and leap into action to guarantee hers and others’ safety. But, I soon realized that no matter how much I rallied my tribe or talked to city officials, it wasn’t enough. No amount of ads or PSAs are going to stop people from being careless.
These incidents aren’t something that is cut and dry in terms of who is at fault, or how to reduce them. I’ve had multiple conversations with friends online and in person. “Drivers should slow down, stop texting, and keep an eye out!” or “Pedestrians shouldn’t just step out into the street! Wear brighter clothing! Don’t jaywalk!”
Both sides have merit, but at the end of the day, it is going to take ALL of us being more cautious and having care for one another to create change. We’re in this together after all, right?
There are a lot of basic things we all can do, no matter our role, to reduce these incidents.
- Follow the speed limit, and if you’re in an area like a school zone or Midtown/Downtown you might want to go under the speed limit
- Keep an eye out for people using crosswalks, and emerging from obstructed views. Even if someone is jaywalking, you have to stop.
- Make sure you have your lights on at night, and that they work. Use your brights when driving in dark, unlit areas.
- If someone is crossing in a crosswalk, don’t edge up to them to make a turn as they’re crossing. That’s aggressive. Wait for your turn.
- If you do hit someone, have the decency to stop and call 911.
- As my dad would say, “If you’re going to drive, don’t drink. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive.”
- When encountering a cyclist, by law you have to give them 3 feet of space when going around them. If you don’t have the room to go around, wait until you do. Share the road.
- Like they taught you in grade school, look both ways before crossing the street.
- Use the crosswalk when possible. Losing your life isn’t worth jaywalking over.
- Before you cross, make eye contact with drivers, and wave, to make sure they see you and stop before you step into the crosswalk.
- If walking at night, wear reflective gear or carry a flashlight so drivers can see you.
- When crossing the street, stay off your phone. You must remain alert.
- Observe basic traffic laws when riding.
- Follow the flow of traffic, and don’t go in the opposite direction when riding on the street.
- Make sure you’re wearing reflective clothing at night, and that you have safety lights on your bike.
I’m sure there are many more things we all can be doing, but these are the most straightforward ways for all parties involved to watch out for one another. While we live in a busy world, none of us are too busy to take safety seriously. It’s up to all of us to change things in our community.
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