Put pedestrians first

I came across a scary car accident involving a child a few days ago. He was hit on his way to elementary school, a few hundred feet from the front gate. I sat with him in the road for a while. Someone called his mother and an ambulance. 

There have been five accidents involving children going to and from school in Alameda since the start of the school year in late August. Fortunately, the child in this accident didn’t have any permanent physical damage but statistically, this trend will end in tragedy. 

Slowing down may seem like an inconvenience when rushing to work, but beyond accident prevention, it saves lives. Pedestrian deaths double every 5 miles per hour you add to a car’s speed in an accident. Our island is known for its 25-mile-an-hour slow life, but for school zones during school hours, this doesn’t cut it. 

Traffic experts now say 20 miles-per-hour is the best speed for school zones and we should demand the same for our children. In August, Sacramento’s City Council put children and pedestrians first and voted to make the school-zone speed limit 15 miles-per-hour. 

I’m not going to argue a new school speed limit won’t be without its compromises: the cost of adding new signs, of enforcement, of adding a minute or two to your morning drive. But that’s really all it is, a minute or two. Weigh this against helping pedestrians feel safe, in encouraging biking and walking (which ultimately will help car drivers) and, most importantly, in saving the lives of our neighbors and friends.


Grant Burningham