Portsmouth City Council last night followed the lead of their Virginia Beach counterparts in imposing a ban on fundraising and other solicitations by individuals standing in the medians of busy intersections. The move, reports the Virginian-Pilot, was prompted by safety concerns and what "Portsmouth police estimated (to be) a tenfold increase in the number of solicitors" at intersections since the start of 2009.
Encouragingly, Hampton Roads cities are enacting bans on in-median solicitations even though the region already does a relatively good job of protecting pedestrians. The independent Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership just reported in Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths that, taken together, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News ranked in the top fifteen of the safest U.S. regions for pedestrians.
The report, whose findings were highlighted in the Nov. 10 Virginian-Pilot, also noted that 39 people were killed while walking or standing along Tidewater roadways during 2007 and 2008. Statewide, Virginia saw 286 pedestrian fatalities during the reporting period.
So, obviously, much work remains to be done to keep pedestrians safe. City Council members in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth have taken important steps in keeping people out of harm’s way by banning solicitations in traffic medians and at red lights. Despite these new restrictions, though, pedestrians and drivers will still need to take responsibility for avoiding accidents.
My colleague John Cooper posted an excellent list of rules for pedestrians on this blog a few days ago. I will take this opportunity to offer the following advice to drivers:
- Check for pedestrians or bicyclists on all corners when approaching an intersection or parking lot.
- Stop behind and in front of any bus taking on or letting off passengers, especially school children.
- Do not block crosswalks when stopping at red lights or stop signs; blocking a crosswalk can force pedestrians and bicyclists to veer into the path of on-coming traffic.
- Understand that people in a crosswalk always have the right of way.
- Do not speed.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.