After Mitchell, officials take action

Two months after wheelchair pedestrian Gerry Mitchell was struck in a West Main Street crosswalk by a police cruiser and then ticketed, local government officials are taking action to increase pedestrian safety.

"You'll see some real substantive changes" at intersections around the city, says Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, who cites Mitchell's accident, which occurred November 5 in a West Main Street crosswalk, and a second accident in which a wheelchair pedestrian was hit and ticketed, as the impetus for the changes.

Norris says Council plans to address several different issues regarding crosswalks, including considering making all intersections and pedestrian signals more accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities, as well as trying to establish consistency among intersections.

Currently, pedestrians attempting to cross at intersections face a hodgepodge of signs, buttons, and laws– some intersections have pedestrian signals; some don't. Some pedestrian signals have buttons you must press to trigger the signal; others change automatically. And even the pedestrian signals themselves are not consistent. Some show the words "walk" and "don't walk" while others use the universal symbols of a red hand for stop, a white walking figure for go. Under current state law, only those using words are enforceable.

Delegate David Toscano has also gotten in on the pedestrian safety action. He is co-sponsoring one pedestrian bill and sponsoring a second. The first, HB 1270, written with a delegate from Northern Virginia, clarifies responsibilities for both pedestrians and drivers and, if passed, would require drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians who enter a marked crosswalk.

The second bill, HB 1478, closes a legal loophole that rendered unenforceable pedestrian signals that use symbols or sounds. Toscano says he wrote this bill as a direct result of confusion in the Mitchell case.

"People should agree," says Toscano, "that public safety is served if you can enforce the laws you have on the books."

10 comments

Will Council be re-appropriateing the money currently allocated for signs directing people downtown to the new project of consistency of intersections or does that have equal priority?

Stop trying to justify this series of endless series of articles on one instance. Should both parties have been ticketed to be fair? Yes. Should the Hook reporters start trying to be less than lazy and getting new news . . . yes. There are people dying of disease that are not been treated in Central Virginia, traffic sucks in town and nobody is doing anything about it, there are no good movie theaters in town. There, no new stories. Have at it!! This is ridiculous.

Just another sickening example of milksop Charlottesvillian over reaction. The local media and the citizens of this leftwing socialist utopia town owe a profound apology to the office that knows how to obey traffic signals yet was the target of moronic do gooders who tried every conceivable means to crucify him. In the spirit of pandering and catering that has come to typify Charlottesville, the guy who disobeyed traffic signals was not prosecuted. Maybe he should be the next "not elected by popular vote mayor" after Dave Norris? Whenever I drive past the library I see hordes of career bums, layabouts and refuseniks delightedly walking around as slowly as possible and enjoying the power they think they have over motorists by deliberately making traffic wait for them as long as they can.

Anyone who takes the time to research the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles drivers license pamphlet will see that the pedestrian always has the right of way---ALREADY. Why the rush for yet more laws---perhaps social pandering and vote getting?

You're right. There are people dying of disease that are not being treated in Central Virginia, traffic sucks in town and nobody is doing anything about it, there are no good movie theaters in town. And police cars are so bored they are running over people in crosswalks. :)

Oh well, just another thing the cops got away with. Anyone know how Mr. Mitchell is doing?

This guy http://myspace.com/dj_k00k
has a My Hump poster up at Cafe Cubano, here is the image:
http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/5618/myhumpkf6.jpg

"Anyone who takes the time to research the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles drivers license pamphlet will see that the pedestrian always has the right of way ¢Ã¢â??¬” ALREADY."

So why wasn't the cop charged then? They are above the law?

"Pedestrian always has the right of way" is good advice, and it is in the DMV manual. But the manual also seems to say that in the actual law it's limited to peds who are blind or at intersections and crosswalks. Read all about it here, about halfway down, in my post:

http://www.cvillenews.com/2008/01/07/gerry-mitchell-video/

In any case, the situation in the video is directly addressed in the manual, and as far as the driver is concerned, the ped has the right of way.

Doesn't seem to matter what the DMV manual teaches drivers, eh? The locality has shown they will do as they damn well please. Especially when a police car is involved.