Traffic Safety Has a Bias

My 17 year-old daughter had a babysitting gig the other day. She walked the neighbor kids down to our local YMCA in the morning. Two of the kids were in a stroller. It is a familiar route to her that has a number of crosswalks. She said it was amazing that cars were stopping for her at crosswalks and waving them across. That afternoon she went back to the YMCA by herself and it was business as usual; motorists were not yielding at crosswalks.

So don’t let anyone tell you that safety doesn’t have a basis. I’m not sure at what age motorists find pedestrian’s lives of negligible value but in Ann Arbor it appears to be somewhere between 5 and 17. And should you think I am stretching the point based on a single incident you are mistaken. Research finds that motorists are less likely to stop when people of color step into crosswalks and cars will pass a male on a bicycle closer than they will a female.

In my line of work we are always looking for better design solutions and new outreach methods for safety education. It would appear that what really need to focus on is our core values.

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