Pedestrian Accident in Sq. Hill on Tues Eve

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Swalfoort
Participant
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Does anyone know anything about a pedestrian accident at Shady and Wilkins last evening? News reports say it happened about 7 p.m.

The news also says the intersection was closed for about 2 hours for “accident reconstruction” which seems odd. That’s what piqued my interest.


kelw
Member
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This morning at work a woman who lives near that intersection told me that it was a middle-aged woman in the crosswalk who was hit by a driver making a turn. The woman said that she was not there when it happened but she did note that the driver was present when the police and ambulance arrived. She said that the pedestrian was taken to the hospital “in really bad shape”.


salty
Participant
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I heard about that on the news but no details aside from the location and time. That’s awful – I hope she is ok and would be interested in any updates.

Of course, I never heard another thing about the man who got hit at Wilkins and Wightman last summer. (hit & run)


quizbot
Participant
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rsprake
Participant
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All of the flashing lines and paint won’t help if the driver isn’t looking.


edmonds59
Participant
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I was thinking this for crosswalks. More better! http://youtu.be/mRPEW2OMIU8


Pierce
Participant
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The driver was probably distracted looking at pedestrians that had already crossed the street and neglected to see somebody else was still crossing


Swalfoort
Participant
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The WTAE report says the victim was a 51 year old woman. She was crossing, apparently in the crosswalk, and was hit by a vehicle that was turning right.

The victim hit her head on the pavement when she fell, and was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The driver remained at the scene.

Sounds like this is a case where the driver might have seen, and might have known about, the crosswalk. But, the driver failed to see the pedestrian in the crosswalk…..after dark, while making a turn at an urban intersection with potentially competing light sources, etc.

Better crosswalk demarcation may or may not have helped in this case. (Couldn’t have hurt, obviously.)


Swalfoort
Participant
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Ouch! Looking at that intersection on Google Streetview, it looks like a pedestrian could be hard to see for a driver trying to make the right hand turn from Wilkins inbound onto Shady northbound. There’s a telephone pole and a signal control box that could easily disguise a pedestrian. The right hand turn from Shady southbound to Wilkins inbound is the only other one that seems to have visibility of pedestrian issues.


Lee
Participant
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I’m surprised more peds don’t get hit at night. As a motorist too I realize how hard it is to really check all angles properly when turning and it scares the hell out of me when i walk. in a car you’re contending with darkness, glare, obstruction from your doorposts, the extreme angle in which you have to crane your neck. all while the traffic lights/signs, controlling the car, watching for oncoming and cross traffic compete for your attention. and while you look one direction, the situation could be changing in another. it has made me slow down (god forbid) and be more aware as I’m pulling up to intersections so that I can see any danger ahead of time and not have to look everywhere all at once. I don’t think people walking realize how oblivious drivers are to their position in the street at night.


Lee
Participant
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That turn in particular is what started making me think about what I wrote above. I used to live around the corner. Swalfoort is right. It’s deceptively easy to miss someone walking out into the street there and on a lot of intersections. If pedestrians just walked out everytime they have the right of way a lot more would get hit. I notice pedestrians hold back for their own safety many times that they would have legally been allowed to go first because of a car barreling through.


rgrasmus
Member
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PennDOT stating the obvious on Twitter 1/2 an hour ago – “If you encounter a pedestrian crossing the street while driving in inclement weather, be sure to allow them extra time to cross.”


Ahlir
Participant
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I understood that turning right on a red light had to include a stop. That is, you come to a complete stop then initiate a turn (presumably after checking that the coast was clear). I would guess that this particular driver was simply barreling through…

Any bets that this driver won’t be charged with not stopping at a stop sign / red light? (Though keeping in mind that was a pedestrian and not a cyclist.)


jonawebb
Participant
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@ahlir I don’t see where it says the motorist was turning right on red. The light could have been green, and the pedestrian crossing legally on the cross street.
I encountered this myself the other day — I was biking on Morewood, turning left onto Ellsworth, and almost didn’t see a woman in a long fur coat crossing. Only her white head was visible, floating in the darkness.


Swalfoort
Participant
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I agree. There is no evidence at this time that the driver did anything illegal (other than not yield to a pedestrian that he might not have seen in time).

The unfortunate fact is that if you are not LOOKING for pedestrians to be present, you might not see the ones that are out there.

Uh oh, NINJA PEDESTRIANS!


rsprake
Participant
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Crosswalks are obvious, it’s an urban intersection with a traffic light. This is not a complicated intersection we are talking about here.


Vannevar
Participant
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In aviation there’s a concept called “see and avoid”. Generally it means that aircraft are responsible for seeing and avoiding each other in visual conditions.

In congested airspace, where big/fast/heavy aircraft mix with tiny/slow/vulnerable aircraft, we had thirty years of midairs that demonstrated the failure of the see-and-avoid concept with fast moving aircraft, disparate types, and complex situations.

Today we have a situation with mandatory speed limits for jets operating below 10,000MSL (the altitudes at which most of the disparate mixes occur), mandatory anti-collision light requirements for the jets below 10K, and mandatory electronic beacons for the small aircraft that want to share the congested space around major terminals.

There’s multiple layers of safeguards, and we don’t leave it to human performance by a single individual to prevent a death – because that one individual we’re relying on can so easily become the “single point of failure”, simply by performing within the normal range of human performance.

See-and-avoid is a concept that works “most of the time”, in ideal conditions. It doesn’t work in high-workload, distracting, noisy, complex, high-speed situations.

Aviation had to change and move away from “see and avoid”, kicking and screaming, because the public finds 300-death events unacceptable. Unfortunately, the public finds 30,000 annual deaths acceptable if they happen in twos and threes, without significant media coverage.

Look at how many seconds the approaching driver has to acquire the pedestrian(s), recognize it as a potential conflict, calculate the timing, and maybe there’s several things moving around. A certain number of the conflicts that will produce a collision are “constant bearing, decreasing range” and so there’s zero relative motion, which is usually what our lizard brains require in order to call attention to the target.

So the driver has maybe four or five seconds if nothing else is distracting them (navigation, road closure, conversation) to identify, process, and not kill that pedestrian. No surprise that it fails.

Sorry to rant.


Ahlir
Participant
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@Vannevar: thank you for that note! That was useful. Of course random individual deaths and mutilations don’t seem to count, as you point out.

I guess I should apologize for jumping to conclusions about the incident. I suppose I could invoke Bayes Rule to explain my reaction, but let me not.
I’ll just say that I live a few blocks away from that intersection and ride through it on a regular basis. I find it hard to believe that a car driver would screw it up (though maybe this is a better place to invoke Bayes). It’s not that complicated kind of intersection. Even if the light was green, the driver did wrong by not paying attention to the situation (like, you know, they keep insisting that you do).

I’m also a bit surprised that we’re willing to give this driver a pass when we’re all over them in cases where we actually learn something about the victim (cf. Update Iain, Boy hit by SUV Pt. Breeze). In both cases a human was seriously injured because our society values the car + driver over the vulnerable human and just assumes it’s “one of those things” and “accidents happen”.

Sorry to rant.


Vannevar
Participant
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@ahlir, you’re quite welcome. To apply the aviation “best practices” used to reinforce the x% failure rate of “see-and-avoid” with car-pedestrian interaction, we (society) could take these steps with existing technology right now:
1 lower the speed limits wherever crossings are permitted – this works on so many levels – it gives the driver more time to acquire/process the target, it gives the pedestrian a simpler judgement call to make, it makes errors in judgement less fatal
2 add signaling devices to help the oncoming driver know when somebody is crossing – for instance, automated embedded blinkies
3 reduce distractions – texting, digital billboards, attractive nuisances. We can zone a less distracting visual field.

And when technology permits, use sensors-AI to augment the driver’s acquisition/processing of the targets.

But the simplest, most effective thing that could be done right now is reducing the speed limit to 20 (or installing a stop light) wherever pedestrian crossings are permitted.


salty
Participant
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“see and avoid” is still the law, so… and I think it’s a strained analogy here regardless.

how many seconds does the driver have to make sure the crosswalk is clear? an infinite number of seconds. they can slow the fuck down or even stop before making the turn if they’re not sure if they’re about to run someone over. this has the side benefit of possibly not injuring someone as badly if you still screw up.

there’s no excuse for this, and an awful lot of the discussion here seems to be making excuses for the driver or speculating about how the victim might theoretically make herself more visible. Like rsprake said, it’s not that complicated.


paulheckbert
Participant
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> the simplest, most effective thing that could be done right now …

If all pedestrians wore clothing with Scotchlite reflective patches, that would help. There are too many people walking around in mostly black, after dark.

Those of you who are older have probably noticed that your night vision has deteriorated, as you’ve aged.


byogman
Member
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Excuses are generally lame. Individual crashes are rarely subtle or complicated things. Lee did point to some practical problems that I notice much more now that I mostly ride, and make me nervous about driving. But my responsibility while driving is my responsibility.

But how we fix this… not this crash, but broadly address causes? Impatience, distraction, and plain stupidity are and always will be in plentiful supply. With tons of metal continuously in the mix, you’ve got a bad problem that yes, is complicated to mitigate. Compounded by the fact that the problem is not, what is the proper way to do things, but… how do we make headway starting from the very stupid situation we are in presently?

I don’t know that, as applies to this case, or generally, but it’s good to toss around. I tend to favor brightly lit intersections perhaps with additional lighting triggered by motion sensing, lower speed limits, traffic light punishment enforced, and maybe more speed bumps and raised crosswalks.


jonawebb
Participant
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salty wrote:Of course, I never heard another thing about the man who got hit at Wilkins and Wightman last summer. (hit & run)

Salty, see new thread — “Hit and Run Follow Up” — the driver turned himself in and has been charged.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The underlying issue, for me, is getting people out of cars. The car is a wonderful thing, but too often for many able-bodied people it’s their only means of getting around, when alternatives exist.

Get people on transit. It’s really really difficult to run someone over if you’re sitting on a bus. Fix these funding issues. Fix these service issues. Get people to fork over $1,608.75 for an annual bus pass instead of $1,608.75 for merely the annual insurance premiums on a car, never mind fuel, parking, repairs, fuzzy dice on the mirror, or the payments on the thing in the first place.

Make cycling not seem scary. If we have to reduce speed limits and impede automotive movement, then damn-PennDOT-to-hell, so be it.


salty
Participant
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$1072.50 if you live in zone 1, of course. I say, put bus lanes on every street they use – that will fix the service issues in a hurry. People complain about buses being late but that has little to do with the buses. Cars can use what is left over.


Marko82
Participant
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TWO more peds hit this morning:

“Pittsburgh police assigned to Zone 4, which includes Squirrel Hill, responded to five calls for pedestrians struck by vehicles in the past three weeks, according to an alert from Cmdr. Kathy Degler.

In three of those cases, pedestrians were crossing the street in legal crosswalk areas and the drivers were turning onto the same street and struck them, Cmdr. Degler said.

In another case, a pedestrian was hit after getting off of a Port Authority bus because “an impatient driver attempted to pass the bus and struck the victim,” who was in the crosswalk in front of the bus, Cmdr. Degler said.

All four were hospitalized.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/12/06/Pedestrians-hit-by-vehicles-in-Pittsburgh-Aspinwall/stories/201312060164#ixzz2mi8WMh9r


rgrasmus
Member
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Sounds like the driver fled in the one on Freeport Rd.
How does something like this (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/dec/01/stop-killing-cyclists-die-in-tfl-protest) sound to people?


Vannevar
Participant
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salty wrote:Cars can use what is left over.

+1


Swalfoort
Participant
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So it was not my imagination, then.

I thought I heard something about a pedestrian accident at Greenfield and Panther Hollow Road (which I assume is the north end of the Greenfield Bridge). But a few minutes later, I heard a pedestrian was hit on Freeport Road in Aspinwall, and thought that maybe I heard overlapping stories.

Really? Two this morning? Do I have the right two?


jonawebb
Participant
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Swalfoort
Participant
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So I can only do a check of the police blotter over the past 7 days.

The only pedestrian incident reported in the past 7 days on the official police blotter posted to their website is:

11:24 p.m., Monday, December 2nd, Hamilton and N. Homewood Avenue. The incident is described as Section 9134 offense, “Pedestrian Hit by Vehicle/Non-Reportable Accident.”

No record of the woman hit in Squirrel Hill that started this thread, or any other pedestrian accident. No report of any accident at all at that intersection on that day in that general timeframe. Perhaps because the driver was not cited? (That is just conjecture on my part).

I will monitor for today’s event in Schenley Park in coming days.

BTW, there was a bicycle accident with minor injury reported on Thursday, December 5th, at 6:15 p.m. at the intersection of North Highland and Broad Street in East Liberty. That was the only bike incident reported for the week.

My dilemma is it is hard ot make a persuasive case for the need to make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists if well documented cases like the four pedestrians cited by Commander Degler go “unreported” in official channels.


Marko82
Participant
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So the police do a shitty job of collecting/reporting data; so when you complain about the situation (that they are not reporting on) they ask you for proof that the problem exist. As the adds say…Priceless!


Swalfoort
Participant
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@Marko – BINGO! You hit that nail on the head!


Marko82
Participant
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It looks like the Aspinwall woman was hit in the business district. http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/woman-struck-car-aspinwall-during-morning-commute/ncDCN/


helen s
Participant
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I take issue with that first line. She did not break her own legs, that was done by someone else.


edmonds59
Participant
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^Ha ha. That’s jernalism! (sic)


Pierce
Participant
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Wearing reflective clothing isn’t going to help if somebody is making a 25mph turn and not really paying attention to begin with

I got hit by a guy making a turn and I had a 150 lumens flashing light, bright clothing, and hundreds of feet of sight line


salty
Participant
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So many possible quotes here… Despite the title, this is not just about buses, but pedestrians and cyclists (and the cars that murder them and generally make life unpleasant) as well.

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