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Lessons From The Dutch On Rising Pedestrian-Traffic Deaths

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Intersection where a pedestrian was hit by a car and seriously injured in San Francisco.

Intersection where a pedestrian was hit by a car and seriously injured in San Francisco.

SusanLeighTaylor20100909_KCBS_0706 Susan Leigh Taylor
Susan attended Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne (home...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Since New Year’s Eve at least a half dozen pedestrians have been hit and killed by vehicles in the greater Bay Area.

The Dutch have already dealt with this conundrum over the last few decades with changes that have been praised by transportation planners. KCBS interviewed an expert on the issue who said we could take a page from their culture.

“They think of cities as places for people in which cars (motor vehicles) are guests,” said Peter Furth, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University.

Furth teaches a class about Netherlands’ street culture and said their drivers have a different attitude.

“They think of pedestrians and bicyclists as vulnerable road users and it is absolutely every driver’s obligation to protect those vulnerable users.”

Those attitudes are reinforced with harsh insurance penalties for drivers who strike a pedestrian or cyclist. They also have a philosophy that no pedestrian should ever have to cross more than two lanes of traffic at a time and one would be preferable.

“Because what happens when you have to cross more than one lane is a car in the first lane might be stopping and so you think you can go, but they might be actually blocking the view of another car that’s coming up,” Furth said.

Consequentially, there are thousands of concrete crossing islands where people can safely get out of traffic.

(Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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