The following is an article from Elsa Roberts from Emerge Miami.
“What are you doing?”
“I almost get hit every time I cross the street with my daughter.”
“Get a job!”
“Thank you for doing this.”
These are just a few of the comments we heard in 40 minutes walking the crosswalk for pedestrian safety in Coral Gables on October 20. One older gentleman complained that he doesn’t feel safe crossing the street and said that he couldn’t sprint out of a car’s way anymore – he is 77. Another woman crossing with her children thanked us and proceeded to explain to her daughter why we were demonstrating for safer streets.
Motorist reactions were mixed. There were many instances of driver misbehavior and disrespect. Several drivers illegally blocked the intersection trying to turn left after their green arrow was gone and many making right turns came within inches of our legs; angrily demanding with their vehicles that we yield our space. The strangest comment we received was from a woman in an SUV trying to make a right turn while we were lawfully crossing the street, she rolled down her window, stared into our faces and our signs urging drivers to take care and reminding them that we are all pedestrians, and shouted angrily, “Why don’t you get a job!” Three of us looked at her and simply stated, “We have jobs.” “In fact, we’re here on a Saturday, raising awareness about an issue that kills and injures hundreds of people in Miami every year.”
Unfortunately, too many people care more about getting to a destination a little quicker than they do about looking both ways and yielding to pedestrians, and that is why Miami is the 4th most dangerous city in the U.S. for pedestrians and cyclists; a dishonor shared by three other metropolitan areas, all located in Florida (the Orlando-Kissimmee area is 1st, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 2nd, and Jacksonville is 3rd). Our cities are not designed to facilitate safe travel for pedestrians, an issue that has repeatedly been brought before the FDOT multiple times (see TransitMiami’s archive), but which they are reluctant to acknowledge as a problem.
This is an issue that will only be solved by repeatedly bringing it into the public eye. Each time a pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed, the public must cry out and encourage media coverage. We must continue with walks like this to engage the community in Miami; together we can raise awareness and make our streets safer. We will be planning another Walk for Safety in December. Stay tuned to details!
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