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Commuting through downtown I've seen instances of distracted pedestrians crossing the street. I agree that it hasn't risen, to date, to be much of an issue.

It is interesting that the Post, with no or little basis, calls for laws to restrict distracted pedestrians while today not a single state has enacted a complete ban on cell phone use while driving.

I'm convinced by the brain studies showing that ANY cell phone conversation is a distraction and a dangerous thing to do by an operator of a motor vehicle.

Yea, all those pedestrians who are distracted and don't see cars barreling through a crosswalk on a right-on-red...

the onus is really on the pedestrians to jump out of the way of the guy not-slowing-down-for-right-turn-on-red-while-texting, isn't it? if you believe otherwise, you're basically just starting a war on cars.

Washington Post's customary windshield perspective strikes back!

Wow! Look at the drop in overall fatalities from 41,000 in 2007 to 33,000 in 2010. Did all the bad drivers lose their jobs in the recession?

Riding on the bike path trying to pass a jogger who has a walkman stuffed in his ear. They can not hear my bell.
I think it is a good idea because if they get hit then they can not sue me and if I get hurt by their careless act then I can get paid.

To the pedestrian who almost jaywalked in front of me: When about to jaywalk across a one-way street, it is customary to look down the street where the traffic is coming from, not where it is going.

Does it really matter if this law is passed? It will be as enforced as those on distracted driving.

It is a huge problem. I doubt it has a strong correlation to fatalties. However, it is very high in terms of close calls. Injuries -- yes, I'd saw a moderate to weak correlation.


I'd agree a new law is not needed, but then again I don't think we need the death sentence when you kill a cyclist.


I forgot--I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago. Pedestrian strolled right in front of me, and kept walking while staring intently in the wrong direction (the direction where traffic would be coming AFTER he crossed the middle of the street) as I rang my bell and called out repeatedly.

As pointed out by xmal above, motor vehicle fatalities have dropped significantly. Unfortunately, those decreases are only for people _inside_ the cars. The rest of us, not so much.[1] Also worth noting: In DC (the city, not the metro area), most people killed by motor vehicles were _not_ inside cars [2] and DC has a higher pedestrian fatality rate than any state in the union [3].

Our windsheild perspective is killing us and it is time for the people on the outside of the #$%^@! cars to demand that drivers be held accountable.

[1] http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/01/23/bike-ped-traffic-funding-and-fatalities-all-inch-upward/

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/half-of-dc-traffic-fatalities-were-pedestrians/2012/08/06/107be118-dff8-11e1-a19c-fcfa365396c8_story.html

[3] http://www.statemaster.com/graph/trn_aut_acc_ped_fat_rat_per_100_pop-rate-per-100-000-population

It is the liberal impulse to regulate. Everything.

Maybe it's just age catching up with me, but it does seem like more people these days just cross streets without looking right or left--regardless of whether they have earphones on. Feels like kind of a macho or narcissistic thing. Often they are probably within their rights as far as crosswalks and the like are concerned. Eventually, they will be dead right.

This is not to say that distracted walking isn't an issue. I don't know if it is or isn't. I don't see it a lot when I bike, but then I don't commute along a route with many pedestrians.

My route goes through downtown, directly in front of 3 metro stations, and I can say that I see a ton of distracted pedestrians.

For that matter, I see bad behavior from just about everybody... illegal parking, illegal U-turns, red-light running, jaywalking, texting while driving, box blocking, you name it! Law breaking is seriously running rampant out there. I've been wanting to get a helmet cam to document some of the idiocy that I witness on my ride every day. At least then we can put some data to this question and start to develop solutions that are more than just finger pointing.

You can't regulate or legislate out stupidity. All you can do is raise awareness of the consequence of choosing to act stupidly. Aka, show the bloody scene following a distracted pedestrian hit by a car when the car has the right of way.

Calling passes is required by VA law for cyclists. Anyone who cycles at all knows it's actually practiced by, at best, half of the folks on the trail (and that's being really generous). People will continue to believe they're somehow immune from consequence for whatever reason (God loves them more, they have superhero reflexs, etc).

On which note, I had two people literally walk into me today because they were so engrossed with their phones. Next time if they start to walk into me, I'm tempted to lean into it and see how they react. "Oh, you're walking into me, but you don't like me embracing it? Then look up more than every 5 minutes. You're not a superhero."

I should have made trails plural and added roads. Not to mention the folks I see shoaling or salmoning--the latter of which I think want to test the limits on their presumed health insurance policies. But, I don't pretend to think they will listen to a law anymore then I think the idiot driver running within inches of me will follow the 3 foot law.

I have a crazy idea. Why doesn't some hard-hitting investigative TV journalolist set up a camera at Dupont Circle and see how many people blithely jaywalk, often right into moving traffic?

I won't comment on the Post's proposal for distracted walking laws because I don't feel like reading it now. But I will say that there is a problem with distracted pedestrians, on sidewalks, jaywalking, in crosswalks and on multiuse trails. Of course, it's similar to the ongoing problem of distracted drivers. Some distracted cyclists too.

Far too many people seem to think it's OK to be traveling on public streets, trails, sidewalks and crosswalks while completely zoned out and unaware of their immediate environment. I don't get it. It's a serious safety hazard for that person as well as for others around him. This is the case for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

I'm not necessarily in favor of more laws. But I would like to see the general culture change, where people think it might not actually be so wise to drive, bike or walk while distracted.

Examples that I see frequently: car drivers weaving in between lanes and unaware of upcoming red lights and stop signs because they are so wrapped up in their cellphone discussion; pedestrians who step right into traffic and don't bother to look in any direction to see if there are any cars or bikes approaching, cyclists who ride on trails while talking on a hands-free phone set-up and weaving across the dividing line into the path of oncoming bike/pedestrian traffic.

@Cyclist, wait you're not supposed to play chicken on a bicycle? Nobody told me that! joke. I have noticied in uptick in that one the last few weeks or maybe it's just more convenience riders out there. Not sure which.

I'd oppose this as a regulation, and just enforce it under current laws.

For what it's worth, I agree with SJE. Every one of these new regulations that we simply must have supposes that our current laws are actually being enforced; which I think we can all agree is a pretty funny assumption.

How many traffic problems would magically disappear if the police were willing and able to actually enforce the laws already written?

Well, the thing it would do would be to help a driver avoid legal problems "It's not my fault, they were listening to headphones..."

Calling passes is required by VA law for cyclists.

Do you have a cite for that? I've never heard of such a thing and I follow local bike law pretty carefully.

Personally, I'm anti-warning. If you can't pass safely without warning the person you're passing, you can't pass safely. There is too much emphasis on warning as a substitute for waiting until it is safe to pass.

What is NOT clear still is the pedestrian fatality rate per # of pedestrians. The denominator is 100,000 persons/population. Many states seem to want to lower this stat by ensuring that the numerator (ped fatalities) is low by discouraging pedestrians.

ANY ped fatalities are to be avoided, but to really understand what is going on, we need to know how the pedestrian travel mode is growing or shrinking.

AubreyO, I seem to recall that some enormous percentage of pedestrian fatalities occur in parking lots. If that is correct, then reducing ped facilities isn't going to help much.

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