Here’s a car nearly running over pedestrians

While I was walking around in downtown Salt Lake City over the weekend, I saw this:

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As is clear, this truck has pulled up into the crosswalk. The line behind the back wheels is actually where vehicles are supposed to stop. And unfortunately, this truck actually inched forward even as a dozen or so pedestrians walked across.

This is totally unacceptable.

Vehicles should not be pressuring pedestrians to hurry across the street by threatening to run over them. A car can legally be considered a deadly weapon — I’ve covered several court cases as a reporter in which they were — so this is a bit like lunging at someone with a knife.

Worse still, because this happened in a designated crosswalk, it’s a bit like the car was “jaywalking” — or crossing prohibited space — into the pedestrian zone. Ultimately, there isn’t technically a significant difference between what’s happening here and if the truck just decided to drive down the sidewalk. The problem, however, is that there’s a huge difference in the way those two behaviors would be perceived.

Finally, this incident shows several other things: A) that painting crosswalk lines alone is not enough to make a street pedestrian friendly if it’s too car-centric; B) drivers perceive streets as their domain, even if there is designated pedestrian space and even though streets were historically shared spaces; and C) this type of thing is common enough that it doesn’t really surprise anyone.

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