Two incidents this morning are behind this short post. Both were near misses, so probably won’t show up in any sort of statistics nor be acted upon further. Both could have ended in pedestrian injury at the hand of a motorist.
The first incident was borne out of negligence. It was early morning, well before sunrise, and I was walking my dog. We had walked down Arthur St and waited at Taranaki Street for the pedestrian signal to cross. While we were crossing, the car that came out of the tunnel and took the left turn didn’t see us. He claimed, during the words that ensued, that he had the light. While the light in front of him was green, the pedestrian signal was still flashing red – I had every right to expect a safe crossing. He eventually apologised and went on his way, but not before I’d directed a torrent of anger at him. In retrospect, I was likely a bit harsh, but I’m a firm believer in pedestrian rights and safety. He’d violated my rights and could have easily caused harm.
Update 23/03/2015: I had another walk through this crossing and there is a red arrow for turning traffic that is on during the pedestrian phase of the signals. It goes off when the pedestrian goes from green to flashing red.
The second incident deserves all the vitriol that could be summoned. I watched this unfold from the seat of my bus, heading north on Willis Street to turn onto Lambton Quay, approaching 8am. The lights had already turned red and the pedestrian signal to cross Willis had come on, with people crossing from both sides. The little red car had no intention of slowing, much less stopping, for the red light. At least one man had to jump back to not get hit by the car. When our bus was moving again at the next green light, the little red car was still waiting at the next intersection. All that risk for absolutely no benefit.
There’s not really an easy solution to these sorts of problems. We’re starting to roll out red-light cameras, but in very limited numbers, so it won’t solve the general problem. Better road policing in the CBD would help, but what we really need is a shift in mentality and for people to be responsible for their actions. We all have places to go and we should be able to do it safely.