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OP-ED: Safe travel in Foster City — it’s up to you
February 28, 2014, 05:00 AM By Charlie Bronitsky

Charlie Bronitsky

Traffic and pedestrian safety has come to the forefront in Foster City, primarily as a result of several accidents involving pedestrians. One intersection in particular has become a topic of some controversy based on decision made by the City Council to close that intersection to pedestrian traffic. That issue will come before the council again March 3 and we will also be studying traffic and pedestrian safety on a citywide basis sometime later this year.

To say that I have agonized over this issue would be an understatement. The safety of everyone in Foster City is the highest of priorities not only for me but for the entire City Council. It is why we have the police and fire departments that we have, it is why we work with the school district on crossing guards — there is nothing of higher priority. However, while the point of this piece is not to lay blame for the past accidents, what we can learn from them, and from looking at safe and unsafe behavior around us, can help us be safer in the future.

I was not present at any of the recent pedestrian-involved accidents, but I have been told that, in each instance, inattention to the situation was a major factor in the accident. What I have seen with my own eyes is what follows:

The other day, I came home from dropping my dogs at the groomer and observed the morning dropoff at Brewer Island Elementary School. There was someone stopped in my driveway and while I was in front of my own house I saw parents jaywalking their kids across the street, letting their kids off in the middle of the street on the driver’s side into oncoming traffic, people trying to pass one another on my small narrow street, people going through stop signs, people failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk and the list goes on.

What I have learned from all this is that if we want to improve safety we must increase awareness of safety and work to get everyone to make a personal commitment to safer practices. To get that process started, I emailed our police chief, city manager and the school superintendent, and we are already working on an education program for all four of our local schools. I have also spoken to the Chamber of Commerce about involving our businesses in safety programs and I spoke with the government affairs director of the California Apartment Association about doing an outreach program to those who live in our apartment buildings. This, however, is just the beginning.

The point of doing all this is that no stop sign, no traffic light, no crosswalk is going to make things safer until people pay attention and take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others. Three of the four recent accidents involving pedestrians were at intersections with traffic signals and controlled crosswalks. The night the issue first came before the council, I said it was an issue of personal responsibility and I continue to believe it.

This is my pulpit and I am preaching safety to you as strongly and as loudly as I can. Put away your cellphones while you are driving. Stop texting while crossing a street. Use the crosswalks and pay attention to the lights and crossing signs. Don’t let your kids run across the street in front of traffic. Look right, not just left, when you want to make a right on red. Wait until the crosswalk is completely clear before driving across it. Stop at stop signs. Be conscious of safety every time you get in your car or cross a street. Not just your safety and the safety of your children, but everyone’s safety. Forty miles per hour means 40 miles per hour and not 50 down a local city street. Just think how you would feel if you got into an accident and someone was hurt, or even worse.

I am sorry to lecture — that is not my intent — but I see no other way to raise the awareness necessary to make our streets safer. I hope as we proceed through 2014 that you will see circulating through Foster City a written pledge and dedicate yourself to making our streets as safe as they can be. Please, for the sake of our children and everyone who uses our streets, remember to be safe every time you travel.

Charlie Bronitsky is the mayor of Foster City. He can be reached at cbronitsky@fostercity.org.

 

 

Tags: safety, street, traffic, issue, while, council,


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