Ketchikan's Crosswalk Dangers
By Roger McDonald
January 15, 2021
As a 40.5 year resident, I have some comments and opinions about, as Dave Kiffer calls them, residents of our “fair salmon city.” I would like to comment on the death of Charan Bird, known publicly as Birdie, a long time employee of SAIL and a personal friend of my wife, also an ex-SAIL employee, and I. My first wife was hit crossing Tongass Ave. at the crosswalk by the TFCU building. A driver in the center lane saw her crossing and stopped while a jerk in the right lane continued to traverse the intersection. Fortunately she was not severely injured. I,also,have been hit by a vehicle many years ago, while crossing the Schoenbar Road access off Tongass Ave. It was probably my fault as I was wearing dark colored clothing and assumed the driver turning left off Tongass saw me in the crosswalk. While I do not know the facts of Birdie’s death, I can surmise what happened, as I frequently use that intersection. The driver, rather than turn right and use the KPU or airport lot to reverse direction, chose to wait for a break in traffic and when a one and three quarter or greater vehicle space appeared, the driver accelerated into the gap, concerned only with getting into the flow of traffic. There was probably no turn signal evident That someone was in the legal crosswalk was of no concern or idea. People cross Tongass constantly, especially in the Plaza vicinity, with no respect or concern of drivers, expecting them to stop while there are delineated crosswalks and stoplights on the street. I understand that the weather is crappy and uncomfortable but the drivers are confounded also by the whipping rain and dark colored coat wearing folks dashing out across the street.
I would encourage the city manager, police administration, borough and city mayors to require city police and state troopers to actively enforce the traffic laws on the use of turn signals and aggressively patrol the streets for speeding drivers jumping the lights and stop signs, not using turn signals and ignoring folks in the crosswalks.
Received January , 2020 - Published January 15, 2021
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