I'm confused. What part of kids and a crosswalk do drivers not understand?
Last night at about 6:30 pm, a 7-year-old girl was hit, not once but by two different cars and both cars left the scene. Apparently she was with a group of people (kids?) and she got hit. This is both near a park and a Boys&Girls Club. She was (naturally) severely injured. From Publicola:
Since 2007, SBB reports, at least 32 major collisions involving a
pedestrian or cyclist occurred within 10 blocks of that intersection
since 2007, including one in which the victim was killed. MLK only
escapes being considered the most dangerous street in Seattle because
Rainier Ave., a few blocks to the west, takes that dubious honor; just a
few weeks ago, a driver plowed through a hair salon and Greek
restaurant at the north end of Columbia City, injuring numerous people.
Last week, I was driving right by Roosevelt High School. There were two teen girls crossing 15th NE to get to the school. It was daytime and they were in a marked crosswalk. A driver went thru the crosswalk right in front of them. (They did not have to jump back but they did have to pause). I happen to be next to that car at the next stoplight and the driver had the passenger window down. I (politely) asked the driver if she could please stop for children in a school crosswalk. Her answer? "This isn't California and I don't have to stop unless they are in my side of the crosswalk."
And, most importantly, is the story of the Graham Hill students. They lost the bus they had last year and had to walk home. On September 23rd, they were accosted by a man in a car as they walked home. When they would not approach the car and a staffer, who was walking with them, intervened, the man SHOT at them. Three times.
Tonight at the Board meeting, Latina mom after Latina mom, using a translator and in tears, told the Board how frightened their children were and are. How the kids were traumatized and are afraid to go to school.
I listened to them and wondered, why hasn't anything changed? Because honestly, I know that if this had happened north of the Ship Canal, the outcome would be different. (You can get as mad as you want but we all know it is true.) The stats from the Publicola piece show that the City knows there are issues in that neighborhood and yet, nothing changes. The SE has far fewer painted crosswalks than the North end. Why is that?
One speaker tonight, Chris Green, who had been the escort that day, was so eloquent and calmly passionate. He doesn't want to lose his life and worries all the time about the kids under his watch.
I don't mean to pick on anyone but this same night brought a parade of people who want a downtown K-5. It just was happenstance but I guess they didn't read the agenda (or the newspaper) and realize who they would be speaking with tonight.
It was such a juxtaposition between Latino moms and white downtown parents that it was jarring.
The Board's reaction - via their Board comments - was a mixed bag. Several had hearts and flowers but nothing tangible. Director Blanford said good thing but then said the district "needs data on which communities have the most crime issues so kids don't have to walk thru danger zones." Well, I think that SPD could give that in about 10 minutes and I think most people know where in our city good people and neighborhoods endure the most crime and violence. But sure, let's wait for the data to come in.
He went on to say they have less money and people really should advocate to the Legislature as well. I'm thinking he did not realize how abstract that could sound to worried parents with frightened children.
He also said something about governance priorities for the Board and staff and that they need "discipline" around how many they get done. I did not follow how that had anything to do with student safety.
Director Peters, on the other hand, had a thank you to the parents AND their translators. She said they had to look at transportation dollars "and get our children to school safely and if it means a little bit more than so be it, that's what we have to do." I note that no one has said what the $2.6M from rental/lease revenues that went into the General Fund actually funded.
She also said that something needs to be done "immediately" and urged staff to please look into it.
Director Martin-Morris started well, saying he thanked the Graham Hill parents for their courage to "come to a space like this and speak in front of a microphone to the people of power." He said he thought they could "find a way to make you whole."
Director Peaslee, in her usual way, managed to somehow thin out this issue by saying that she had been at a meeting at JAMS about transportation and "there are issues there, too." I'm sure there are but not kids getting shot at by a passing car. She also said it was "clear to us that we need to modify standards so that safety can be used as a rationale."
Wait, what? Safety hasn't been used a rational in transportation decisions in SPS? Kind of akin to Walmart telling Tracy Morgan that he and his friends wouldn't have gotten hurt/badly hurt if they had just had their seatbelts on when Walmart's exhausted truck driver crossed over and smashed into their limo.
Here are some relevant links from SDOT on the laws about crosswalks near schools and kid safety:
Let's be careful out there.
Every kid is somebody's kid.
If I watch out for your kid, will you watch out for mine?