LETTER- Walk sign didn't matter

Gerry Mitchell could have pushed the "Walk" signal button at 4th and West Main streets when he was crossing the street on November 5, and he still would have been struck by the police car driven by Albemarle Officer Gregory C. Davis ["Wheelchair shocker: Viewers find accident video disturbing," January 10]. 

At most intersections in Charlottesville, traffic and pedestrian signals simultaneously direct pedestrians to cross the street– and turning vehicles to drive across the crosswalk. The "Walk" light is activated at the same instant the light controlling traffic turning through the crosswalk turns green.

There are some exceptions, but the intersection at 4th and West Main is not one. The lights for pedestrians crossing West Main and for vehicles turning left onto West Main from 4th change at the same instant. Pushing the button would have activated the "Walk" signal, but nothing else in the light cycle would have changed. 

Gerry Mitchell started to cross West Main when the light controlling traffic on 4th turned green. If he had pushed the button for the "Walk" light, the 4th street light would still have turned green when it did, and that is when the officer drove into Mitchell.

Typically, a pedestrian sees the "Walk" light and begins to cross. A driver sees the light change and begins to make a left turn. Then the driver sees the pedestrian, stops, and allows the pedestrian to proceed. This scenario is repeated countless times every day.

If a pedestrian crossing a street is hit by a vehicle making a left turn, it's because the driver has neglected to do what the law requires: pay attention. The driver who struck Gerry Mitchell was not paying attention. The "Walk" signal would not have changed that.

Kevin Cox