Breeding respect among pedestrians and motorists

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission has released a brochure aimed at helping motorists and pedestrians better coexist on the road. The pamphlet, called "What Pedestrians and Motorists Want Each Other to Know," is the creation of the commission's Elderly and Disabled Transportation Advisory Committee, chaired by Veronica Elsea, of Santa Cruz. "We had seen the brochure made by the cycling community for bicyclists and cars and had a discussion about the things that happen to drivers," she explained, adding that the committee pondered how drivers would be able to live with themselves if they struck a pedestrian, as well as the way families would feel if their loved one was injured or killed by a car while crossing the street. "We are all in this together" said Elsea. The committee's creation is based on the California Vehicle Code but is written in plain language everyone can identify with. It's goal is to raise a sense of awareness about other road users and the many things happening around us while we're trying to reach our respective destinations, said Elsea. It's aim also is to promote a sense of respect on the road, she added while noting that a similar document geared toward bicyclists and pedestrians in is the works. In "What Pedestrians and Motorists Want Each Other to Know," motorists are told to "Watch and be aware of pedestrians" because, "pedestrians may encounter hazards while crossing the street, such as tripping over railroad tracks. Don't assume they'll be out of your lane when you get there." Tripping on railroad tracks is something Elsea, who is blind, experienced after her shoe got caught, she said. For pedestrians, "Vehicles don't stop as fast as you think!," the brochure exclaims. "It takes 11 car lengths or 150 feet for an average vehicle traveling at 25 mph to stop, including the driver's reaction time," according to the document. "I'd rather be late, than 'the late,' said Elsea, while noting that pedestrians always lose in a collision with a car -- no matter who had the right of way. The brochure is the result of about a year of discussions, getting feedback from local traffic and pedestrian safety organizations, and finally getting approval from the commission itself. Now, 5,000 copies exist in English and Spanish. Find them at various locations countywide, including the commission's office in downtown Santa Cruz, the DMV and online at http://www.sccrtc.org/projects/pedestrian/. For brochures and/or a presentation on this topic at your establishment, contact Karena Pushnik, senior transportation planner and spokesperson for the commission, at (831) 460-3200 or info@sccrtc.org. Street Smarts appears Mondays. Follow it on Twitter and Facebook. Submit questions to those aforementioned social media sites or to streetsmarts@santacruzsentinel.com. Please include your name, city of residence and a phone number where you can be reached.
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