This collision occurred in St. Paul, MN, along Snelling Avenue, a quintessential stroad where the design speed is 55 mph, the traffic speed is 45 mph and the posted speed is 35 mph. Standard traffic engineering orthodoxy would tell us that (obviously) greater setbacks are needed to make this corridor safe. That or some industrial-strength guard rails along that sidewalk.
Either way, this building should never have been allowed within the clear zone. It creates an incredibly unsafe situation for drivers.
Wait...the building was there first?
Ummm....Okay, let's move on, because, despite the crash, there is good news here for auto-enthusiasts.
Fortunately, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was on the scene ahead of the action, working diligently to prevent senseless harm, giving an important message to those desperately in need of it. Here is the helpful sign they had erected at this very intersection.
Yes, be vigilant, pedestrians. You never know when a two-ton box of steel may be propelled at you at speeds that kill.
Distracted walking IS dangerous. This stroad was designed for cars to move at incredibly high speeds -- deadly speeds, in fact -- mere feet away from where you are expected to walk. If you are doing something reckless like listening to loud music or -- heaven help us -- talking on your phone, you may not be ready to jump out of the way when a driver (changing their ipod mix or talking on their phone) loses control of their car and comes flying in your direction.
Understand, pedestrians, it is really important to our economy that drivers be free to move their vehicles at high speeds between the Arby's on Scheffer and the Harris Bank on Juno. Not important enough that we would improve the intersections to reduce travel times (that would be politically difficult, even though it would save time and money), but important enough that we would routinely put your life at peril. Thus the sign. Think of it as a proactive contrition mitigation device.
Hey walkers....distracted walking is dangerous walking. I'm sure they focus-group tested that with Minnesotans who drive all different makes and models.
Now I know you might say -- and just listen to yourself to hear how silly it sounds -- that maybe we should consider designing Snelling for slower speeds. Maybe having a corridor full of shops and businesses where vehicles are turning, pedestrians crossing and cyclists trying to navigate traffic is not conducive with high speed travel. Maybe our local businesses would do better, along with our tax base, if the thousands of people who live within walking distance of this area could leave their cars at home and simply walk to patronize these stores. And maybe those homes would then be more valuable and more people would want to live in St. Paul's neighborhoods. And maybe, just maybe, we could afford to properly maintain Snelling if we didn't over-engineer it for high vehicle performance then spend millions on mitigation so pedestrians/cyclists could have a less-than-fifth-class experience.
Well, maybe you should have been alive in 1814 instead of 2014. We have standards, thank you, that have been time-tested for at least a generation and proven to be pretty safe. You can't say that about all this pedestrian nonsense, now can you.
We applaud Mn/DOT for clearly identifying the problem with Snelling Avenue and the seemingly endless parade of stroads they have built throughout Minnesota -- that being distracted walking -- and then showing some real leadership to address it. Perhaps we could find an opaque tax on the suppliers of shoestring to fund an expansion of this campaign, although politically we may need to restrict such a tax to just the metro area (those big liberals will be happy to pay it anyway).
The only thing that could possibly be more effective than putting a message to pedestrians on a massive billboard along a stroad corridor would be having it appear in one of those commercials they play at the pump while you are filling up with gas. That would reinforce the message to the target audience.
Hey walkers....distracted walking is dangerous walking. You don't belong here.