LETTER- 'Walk' signal too brief

Can you stand yet another letter about the pedestrians getting hit in crosswalks ["Wheelchair shocker: Viewers find accident video disturbing," January 10]?

At a recent City Council meeting, I heard someone say that Gerry Mitchell was hit by an Albemarle County police car as the "Don't Walk" signal was flashing, which meant that he was in the crosswalk illegally. I beg to differ.

As someone who walks around our fair city almost every day, I am very familiar with all sorts of pedestrian traffic signals. Whether words or pictures, the "Walk" signal is on for a very short time, followed by a flashing "Don't Walk" signal that lasts longer, and then by a "Don't Walk" signal that doesn't flash.

For someone like me, walking at the pace of the proverbial little old lady, the "Walk" signal lasts only long enough to get across one lane of traffic. If the flashing "Don't walk" signal means a pedestrian is not in the crosswalk legally, then only sprinters would be able to cross streets legally.

The flashing "Don't Walk" signal is rather a warning to pedestrians that there is not enough time to complete a street crossing if one is walking at a little-old-lady pace. It's similar to the yellow light for cars.

Mr. Mitchell uses a wheelchair. He is not a sprinter. If the "Don't Walk" signal was flashing at the time he was hit, he was in the crosswalk legally.

From my experience, the biggest danger a pedestrian faces when crossing the street is from drivers who are turning, particulary if they are making a left turn. Their head is usually turned the other way (that is, to the right). I've been knocked down by a left-turning vehicle whose driver didn't even see me.

Elizabeth Kutchai