Two peds hit near Belmont Bridge

Logan Blanco was struck in a crosswalk by a turning vehicle in the pre-dawn hours of September 12.
PHOTO BY COURTENEY STUART

A pedestrian was struck by a car on the south side of the Belmont Bridge just before noon today, and on September 12, a pedestrian was struck at Ninth and Jefferson on the north side of the bridge.

This morning's accident occurred at the corner of Graves and Avon streets near Spudnuts donut shop. According to city spokesperson Ric Barrick, the pedestrian, whose identity has not been released, "stepped off the curb into the street–- not into a crosswalk–- and the driver was not able to react in time."

According to Barrick, the first officer on the scene interviewed the driver, the pedestrian, and witnesses, before deciding a ticket for the driver was not warranted. And unlike an incident in November 2007 in which a wheelchair-bound pedestrian was ticketed after being struck in a crosswalk, this time police decided not to pursue charges against the injured pedestrian, who was transported to UVA hospital. Barrick says there were no serious injuries.

In an incident on Friday, September 12, a woman out walking her dog was struck just after 6am as she crossed Ninth Street heading west on Jefferson Street. Driver James E. Shifflett was turning left onto Ninth Street from Jefferson St. and struck 59-year-old Logan Blanco. Both are residents of the Little High Street Neighborhood.

"It seemed to lift me up a little; I felt very rag doll-ish," Blanco recalls of being struck. Blanco says she was walking before dawn in the rain and carrying an umbrella, when the bumper of Shifflett's pickup collided with her side. Knocked to her hands and knees, Blanco says, she "scrambled to the sidewalk next to the barbershop," where she laid down until the ambulance arrived. Shifflett, she says, remained on the scene and called for help.

Blanco says she was in shock when rescue personnel arrived and may have led those on the scene to believe she "wasn't very badly hurt" when, in fact, she was.

"I went into the ICU actually," she says. Blanco remained hospitalized at Martha Jefferson Hospital until Tuesday, September 16 with bruising of her internal organs.

Shifflett has been charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian and will appear in Charlottesville District Court on October 6. He declined to comment on the accident citing his pending court date, other than to say he "feels terrible."

The issue of pedestrian safety has captured the public's attention several times in the past year after two wheelchair-bound pedestrians were struck in crosswalks. The first victim, Gerry Mitchell, was hit by an Albemarle County Police Officer–- and then ticketed.

Earlier this month, a pedestrian advisory committee presented recommendations to city council. The committee proposed a $700,000 budget to address common pedestrian woes including varied signage, broken sidewalks, and increased education for drivers and pedestrians. Council approved those recommendations and has reallocated the funds.

–Story last updated at 9:42pm September 30. The original posting incorrectly stated Council was still considering the pedestrian committee's recommendations.–ed.

#

20 comments

I really know how dangerous this city is for our crosswalks are not very well designed for pedestrian safety. A lot of crosswalks have pedestrian crossing lights that are too short for the time it takes to cross all the way across the whole street. Plus a lot of other shortcomings that need to be addressed. The "Spudnut area" has a lot of traffic headed across the bridge in a rush where I think it takes people attention away from the very important pedestrians for the sake of beating traffic to get another minute ahead. It definitely needs to be looked at by some intelligent traffic engineers who can figure out some way for the attention to be dutifully given to the walkers who cross the bridge back and forth everyday at all times. And bikers too for that matter, we too have a heck of a time getting through a light that never trips green for us in that place.

Avon is terrifying. I hope the city spends some money on pedestrian improvements, before someone gets hit again. The city has received many emails about this, yet they've taken no action. Unfortunately, the $700k is not for this part of town.

Maybe if the Council spent a little less time and money trying to outlaw plastic bags and growing grass on the roof of city buildings they could go to lowes, get some paint and repaint all the crosswalks all the time.

You can spend all of the money that you want and you will never spend enough to counterbalance careless drivers and pedestrians. That's why we keep spending money on the same interesections. The Spudnuts intersection was completely renovated less than 10 years ago, installing prominent crosswalks. People ought to try using them first.

Thank you Cville eye! $$$$$ has already been wasted on a cobblestone cross walk to go from a donut shop to an auto repair shop, what more do people want. Here's an idea, pedestrians and drivers should just lookout and be responsible for their own actions. Sometimes accidents just happen.

LTR- that may be the most ridiculous assessment of making Cville a safer pedestrian community ever. In the long run, building better crosswalks will be much cheaper than continuing to pay for emergency response, medical costs, and all of the of non-monetary costs associated with unsafe crosswalks. It's time to stop the cville mantra of.....let's just not deal with the problem and maybe it will go away....my tax dollars....yada yada yada.

I've witnessed multiple accidents on Avon, and multiple children almost struck by cars. There are simple, low cost solutions available. It's time for the city to figure it out and spend some money.

"There are simple, low cost solutions available." Cross Walk, can you provide us with an example of what you would consider a safe crosswalk? I maintain there is no protection from human stupidity or irresponsibility. it was noted in the most recent case the pedestrian wasn't at a crooswalk "According to city spokesperson Ric Barrick, the pedestrian, whose identity has not been released, 'stepped off the curb into the street� not into a crosswalk� and the driver was not able to react in time.' " Are you suggesting that crosswalks should be installed, say, every fifteen feet? I would be very interested in knowing what intersection is human-proof.

I agree with Cville Eye. I've witnessed a couple of accidents where pedestrians simply stepped out without looking and paid a price. Remember that even if there is a crosswalk, you still need to look both ways before walking into it -- a driver traveling 25 mph is not going to be able to stop for you if they're 10 feet away. Of course there are also many accidents caused by distracted drivers or drivers traveling too fast, but there are two sides to every story. You can install tons of crosswalks, you can make them light up when a pedestrian is in them, you can spend millions of dollars studying an intersection, but if a pedestrian doesn't look both ways, if a driver is paying more attention to his ipod than to the road in front of him or if the bicyclist doesn't bother to stop for the stop sign or red light as the law requires, there will still be accidents.

Virginia law makes a lot of sense when it comes to regulating pedestrian/vehicle interaction. Please read section 46.2-924 of the Virginia Code. Here's part of it:

"A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:
1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;
2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;
3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.
B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section, at intersections or crosswalks where the movement of traffic is being regulated by law-enforcement officers or traffic control devices, the driver shall yield according to the direction of the law-enforcement officer or device.
No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.
The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.
Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians."

As the law is written pedestrians frequently have the right of way even if there is no crosswalk. Pedestrians also have a responsibility to pay attention and watch traffic.

The best way to teach everyone to cooperate and work together, for drivers convenience and pedestrians safety, is to have the police get out there and write some tickets. Last year 8 tickets were written to drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians. There are that many violations in one morning on Market St. right in front of the police station.

Cordially,
Kevin Cox

No I'm not suggesting that every 15' we have a crosswalk. And no I'm not suggesting that ANY crosswalks are perfectly safe.

I am saying that many many other cities have BETTER crosswalks than Charlottesville. There lots of innovative crosswalk solutions being built all over the world. My point is, we can do a lot better.

City Council recently approved the following recommendations from the Pedestrian Safety Committee:
• Create an intensive public safety campaign that could include self-enforcement, clarity of traffic laws
and signage, and general awareness of the importance of playing it safe on the road.
• Increase enforcement efforts by police and offer education to convince drivers to ââ?¬Å?self-enforce.”
• Increase the number of audible pedestrian signals, use white paint for crosswalks, standardize push
buttons at intersections, and align curb cuts and ADA ramps.
• Introduce audible pedestrian signals at priority locations like JPA and West Main Street, JPA and Lee
Street, JPA and Brandon Avenue, Main Street and Ridge Street, and McIntire Road and Preston Avenue.
• Install LED crosswalks at priority locations such as Market and 4th Street and 6th Street, Water Street
and 2nd Street and 1st Street and Cherry Avenue at Tonsler Park.

Cordially,
Kevin Cox

The last thing we need is to have our police force wasting time being crosswalk attendants. Directing the city police to write more tickets for jaywalking would simply take them away from fighting "real" crime! I think the police can find better ways to use their time. I think we have all heard the outcry from people who see how foolish it is having police write tickets at the UVA train tracks.

If you step out in front of a car (or train), you deserve to get hit.

Look both ways, I disagree. I cross at some crosswalks in the city where people deliberately run the red light (after pedestrians have been given the walk signal) because they want to be somewhere 1 minute faster and know they can get away with it. Not only is it dangerous, it's also discourteous to the pedestrians who already only have 10 seconds to cross before the light changes and then have to wait for a driver running a red light. If the police could find a way to monitor these crosswalks, it'd be easy money for the city and county.

To add to what I wrote before, I do feel we need more law enforcement in areas such as speeding and running red lights, particularly on pedestrian-heavy roads. The train track ticketing is ridiculous, I agree, but traffic and pedestrian accidents is a much more common problem than people getting hit by trains.

"If the police could find a way to monitor these crosswalks, it'd be easy money for the city and county." Maybe Council ought to buy cameras to ticket at intersections since every neighborhood in the city is requesting police surveillance and we'll never be able to hire enough.

Cville Eye wrote,"You can spend all of the money that you want and you will never spend enough to counterbalance careless drivers and pedestrians." Well that's just not true at all. More police officers writing more tickets can cost more money but people pay attention to the real threat of a ticket. For example, people learn where there's a speed trap and they slow down and pay more attention to what they're doing. If Charlottesville had a reputation as a place where drivers, pedestrians and cyclists had to obey the law or else they'd get a ticket you can bet they would pay more attention and be a lot less careless. It's easy to see though, that Charlottesville doesn't have that kind of reputation and that people know they can speed, run red lights, bike on the sidewalk and ignore pedestrian signals with impunity.
I believe that a real effort to enforce traffic laws would have a lot of benefits. Accidents caused by flagrant disregard of the laws are responsible for plenty of property damage and personal injury. A lot of damage and pain could be prevented if people believed they had to pay attention to the law or they'd get a ticket, fine and higher insurance rates. There are also plenty of people riding around drunk, high and with outstanding warrants. More traffic stops would result in an increase in arrests for a variety of crimes, not just traffic offenses.

Kevin Cox, the city has said it does not have enough police officers for that kind of enforcement and have difficulty hiring more police officers. For this kind of coverage, how many police officers would you have to station on Market Street, for example, 20, 40? Remember they can not see through hills.

I sent Chief Longo an email asking for information on the number of tickets issued for failure to yield to pedestrians. Here's what he wrote when he sent me that information: "I have asked Sgt. Durrette to develop a special initiative aimed at education and enforcement with respect to this area of concern. I would agree with you that we have much work to do in this area, and I commit that I will make every effort to see that we do better."

They can do a better job and the city can be safer. There will be more enforcement. If you get a ticket, don't say you weren't warned.

quote: "...Sgt Durrette..."

Gosh, I didn't even know he was still around these parts. Last time I saw him a tow truck was flipping his brand new patrol back upright after he flipped it. I was told he resigned after that. Learn something new every day I guess.

Saying there will be more enforcement says nothing. How much more, a cop on Water Street or 10 on Preston Avenue? Will the police officers who are currently assign to cruise the neighborhoods be re-assigned to just the collector roads and arterial streets to give tickets? Who's being educated, the public or the police officers? If they plan to educate the public, how are they going to reach those people from out of town, PSAs? I don't consider this any answer at all in support of your statement "If Charlottesville had a reputation as a place where drivers, pedestrians and cyclists had to obey the law or else they’d get a ticket you can bet they would pay more attention and be a lot less careless."

The Hook should be accustomed to errors by now.

To be fair, so should every other local publication.

Don`t be so mortified - it shows.