December 28, 2011 in Walking
TULSA – A 16-year-old pedestrian was struck by a car Tuesday evening on 91st Street while attempting to cross the street at Hunter Park, a location that has no crosswalk for pedestrians to get to Hunter Park directly from the neighborhood to the north.
KTUL published the story on its website. The tone of the police and the news report seem to place blame on the pedestrian:
Police say the 16-year-old stepped out in front of car [sic] in a dimly-lit area. He was not in a cross walk. We’re told the teenager is in serious condition tonight. The driver was not ticketed.
The description that the teenager was crossing in a dimly lit area and was not using a crosswalk leads many to believe the pedestrian was at fault. We simply do not have enough information to determine fault, but often pedestrians (victims) get the blame in auto-pedestrian collisions instead of drivers of motor vehicles, who have an obligation to drive with due care and avoid hitting human beings.
The design of the entrance to Hunter Park is completely auto-oriented. So much in fact that the only way to walk to Hunter Park from the neighborhood to the north via crosswalk is to either take more than a half-mile detour by walking west along the north side of 91st Street, crossing at an unmarked crosswalk at Canton Ave., and then returning to Hunter Park along the south side of 91st Street, or take a mile-long detour by walking east along the north side of 91st Street, crossing with the light at Sheridan, and then walking back to Hunter Park along the south side of 91st Street. There are no sidewalks on either side along 91st Street in this location to assist pedestrians in making such a trek.
Walking east to Sheridan would be extremely difficult to do safely because of the guardrails over the creek that runs under 91st through Hunter Park. The creek and guardrails would force a pedestrian to walk in the roadway to make this trip.
View Larger Map The entrance to Hunter Park is hostile to pedestrians.
So what would most people who want to get to Hunter Park from the neighborhood to the north do? They would most likely cross 91st Street directly. After all, crossing 24-28 feet of right-of-way is a lot quicker and easier, and is possibly safer, than hoofing it 3,200 feet or 5,280 feet along the pedestrian-hostile, sidewalk-absent right-of-way that is 91st Street.
This kind of pedestrian predicament brings to mind the horrific story of Atlanta’s Raquel Nelson who received the ultimate in pedestrian victim-blaming when she was convicted of vehicular homicide – yes, even though she was not driving a car – after her son was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver while she was crossing a major street from the bus stop directly to her apartment home where there was no crosswalk.
In keeping with KRMG’s idea that the ability to drive to a park for a walk means Tulsa is walkable, the City of Tulsa and designers of Hunter Park have made no effort to accommodate anyone other than motorists at this park entrance.
Walking directly to Hunter Park from the neighborhood to the north is legal under Tulsa’s Traffic Code, provided the pedestrian yields to all vehicles:
Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point, other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
But just because a pedestrian fails to yield, the Oklahoma Statutes for Motor Vehicles do not absolve the driver of the vehicle from responsibility:
§47 11 504. Drivers to exercise due care.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.