Block the box

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I was disappointed to learn that the “Block the Box” bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon failed to gain a floor vote in the House earlier in this Legislative Session.  This bill would provide a crucial tool to reduce congestion and improve safety at key Downtown intersections, especially for pedestrians.  Perhaps it can be resurrected before the end of this session!  I am hoping so.  It’s important.

Crossing the street even with the walk signal on, can pose its challenges Downtown.  SDOT confirmed in its 2016 Ped/Bike Safety Analysis –not surprisingly — that the majority of bicycle and pedestrian injuries happen at intersections.

Crossing is especially dangerous for people with mobility issues, and this only gets worse when the intersection is blocked.   Check out this video: the VIDEO: Don’t Block the Box. – Rooted in Rights.   This one-minute video graphically demonstrates the danger our friends who are in wheel chairs face when making our way across our busy streets.  It’s only tough to watch and worth it.

Blocking the Box creates nasty situations for those of us who can walk quickly, and creates significantly worse situations for those who are mobility challenged. I recently had a scary experience on 3rd and Spring. It was about 5:30 pm, and a guy in his SUV was smack in the middle of the crosswalk. If you know Spring Street, you know the street is steep. The signal indicated it was my turn to cross, and I had a decision to make: walk behind the SUV into the bus lane on 3rd and walk between the cars, or wait and miss the walk signal cycle. I chose the latter course and am I glad I did. When the driver in the car ahead of the SUV took her foot off the brake, her car lurched back a couple feet nearly crashing into the SUV behind. I was oh-so-glad my legs weren’t between the two cars.

I couldn’t help but wonder how the scenario would have played out for a person with mobility issues or for someone who had made a different choice.  But who wants to wait when it’s your turn to cross?  We’re all in a hurry to get home.

Here’s why we need the Block the Box bill.  We can’t afford to have a police officer on every corner, but we can – with the help of the legislature – add cameras to encourage good driver behavior and assess fines when drivers run the red.

Thank you, Rep. Fitzgibbon, Rep. Tarleton and other legislators who can make us all safer this year.  We can put an end to Block the Block violations in 2019.  We need it.