SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose is capping off its deadliest year for pedestrians in decades as a 29th fatal accident happened Saturday night. City leaders are saying safety improvements alone aren’t enough.
A 63-year-old woman was struck and killed as she was crossing a busy stretch of Oakland Road near Brokaw at around 5:45 p.m. Saturday evening. Police said it was dark at the time and the woman was well outside the crosswalk.READ MORE: Social Housing May Be A Fix For San Francisco's Housing Affordability Crisis
The city has invested heavily in safety measures, often redesigning its streets and intersections to make them safer. But despite that, 2019 has been the deadliest year for pedestrians for as long as the city has been keeping official records.
“People crossing the street without using the crosswalk and they’re not making themselves visible to cars, they’re going to get hit,” said Tyson Winkle. “I can understand the desire not to walk farther than you have to. So, I can understand that. But at the same time, why take the chance?”
The stretch of Oakland Road on which the woman was hit is bookended by two crosswalks–one at Brokaw and the second at McKay–about a quarter mile apart form each other, with busy shopping centers in the middle. Saturday’s fatality is raising the question if another crosswalk could be added.
“We can’t put crosswalks everywhere. So, we need to have people pay attention to their driving. Don’t text while you’re driving,” said San Jose city councilman Johnny Khamis.READ MORE: UPDATE: Police Arrest Suspect After Knife-Wielding Man Flees 2-Alarm Apartment Fire In San Francisco's Castro
Khamis says San Jose has installed lighted crosswalks and radar speed signs as well as other safety measures to decrease the trend of vehicle vs. pedestrian collisions.
A spokesperson for San Jose’s Transportation Department released a statement, reading in part, “These crashes are tragedies that shake the whole community. The department of transportation’s first priority is improving the safety of our streets for everyone.”
But traffic improvements take time and cost money and can sometimes be rendered ineffective by drunk, distracted or speeding drivers.
Councilman Khamis says if the city wants to put the brakes on pedestrian fatalities, it’s going to take more than redesigned streets.
“We’re doing a lot but we can’t do everything. We need people to pay attention when they’re walking or driving because there’s nothing more important than your life,” Khamis said.MORE NEWS: COVID: California Allows For Some Fans At Ballparks, Limited Capacity At Amusement Parks April 1
A spokesperson for the city says they look at each one of these deaths to see if there is an opportunity to make meaningful safety changes to the street or intersection on which an incident occurred. But they say the hard part is trying to change the behaviors that often these crashes in the first place.