Credits: Sidewalk Terminology Research Analyst – Larry King; Professional Thespian – Jimmy Howe; Staged Accident Accomplice – **Loree.
Thus far, I have accumulated 76 years of life-experience on planet earth. Twenty-five of those years were cop years that catapulted me to the center of a multitude of tragic incidents. My accumulated life experience triggered a change in my brain.
My brain now features x-ray vision. My x-ray vision allows me to look where nothing is happening and see into a future time warp where something can and will happen, given enough time. My extraterrestrial power can best be described as combining a retired cop with a gypsy crystal ball reader. When what I see happening in the future, happens in real life, it is no surprise to me.
Let me give you a burning example of an accident, injury, death, and lawsuit ready to happen. The stage is set.
It should come as no surprise when I tell you I enjoy patronizing John and Niki O’Brien’s Topside Coffee Cabin (TCC) in Steilacoom. I often park my car or motorcycle near the corner of Chambers Creek Road and Wilkes Street. It is a short walk up Wilkes Street to TCC.
My photos below provide you with a clear vision of what I am describing related to my ability to visualize what happens before it happens.
As my eye winds up the hill following the sidewalk as it zigs and zags towards Rainier Street, I spot two people walking up the hill using umbrellas. These two citizens can be seen in both photos. They were not injured because they were paying attention as they walked through the kill zone.
I have identified three engineering options for this particular dangerous traffic design.
Option #1: Do nothing. Do nothing advocates will immediately respond with the tired and pathetic defense for doing nothing. Their statement will be, “No one has ever been injured by the curb before.” Or “That will not happen on my property.”
This risk-taking gamble with human life is not my favorite option. At the bare minimum, the property owner should be motivated by their own self-interest in doing what they can to avoid becoming a defendant in a lawsuit.
Option #2: Leave the concrete curbing tripping hazard to help block cars from inappropriately crossing the sidewalk, but add several brightly colored flexible traffic delineators. Reference photo below to better understand what a traffic delineator looks like. You should recognize what I am referring to even if the industry jargon name, delineator, means nothing to you. Option #2 is my favorite option.
Option #3: Remove the curbing that is a tripping hazard and depend on pedestrians looking both ways before traversing the sidewalk, which includes crossing the exit driveway of the parking lot. While it would be better to remove the tripping hazard than to leave the curb, relying on human beings to look for traffic is risky at best. Option #3 is rated as my second favorite option.
**Some names changed to protect the shy and innocent.
To use words given me by one of my readers, “I am talking about this potential problem out loud.” If you have a connection with the lot owner or a town hall official, I encourage you to join my problem-solving team by forwarding this Westside Story to them. By doing what we can, we may save a life.
There is a significant benefit for putting a solution in place before an incident happens. It will mean we can avoid those tired and often repeated words exclaimed by property owners, government officials, and politicians following another unnecessary death. Those words are, “We have to do something, so no five-year-old kid ever dies on this sidewalk again.”
When I hear these words, I always ask myself, “Why did someone not do something to avoid having the first person die?”
After the body is removed, the slow and blind problem solvers will belatedly move to Option 2 or Option 3 above proving, once again, that someone has to die first.
I, on the other hand, am dedicated to beating the Grim Reaper to the scene. Graphic description? Yes, but true to life. I make a habit of telling it like it is without pulling punches.
When I was a police officer, people may or may not have liked what I had to say, but no one ever accused me of providing a confusing message. My words of warning tend to be crystal clear.
Fix the problem, before it becomes another unnecessary disaster!