Reader view: Be safe — walk on side of street facing oncoming traffic

Students learn to walk on the street facing traffic during a City of Edmonds pedestrian safety exercise in 2023. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

After the latest pedestrian/car incident where a woman was pushing a stroller with a baby in it, I am compelled to write this.

The woman was struck from behind, and I have noted that in many similar incidents where the victims have also been struck from behind. In each of these incidents, the victim was walking on the wrong side of the street.

I also note that these types of accidents occur primarily in more urban settings.

As a child growing up in rural Washington, I was taught to always walk on the side of the street facing oncoming traffic. Walking facing traffic gives you the opportunity to quickly move away from danger when you see it coming toward you.

 With so many distractions drivers have available to them — phones, eating or drinking, fiddling with mirrors or entertainment options and many more — it’s easy to see why they might swerve or meander off the street onto the shoulder of the road. If you, a pedestrian, are walking with your back to oncoming traffic, you’re walking on the wrong side of the street. This has a very strong chance of you being struck from behind and killed.

I see this every day on the streets around my home here in Edmonds, it’s disturbing to see this happening, and rightly or wrongly, I suspect that pedestrians didn’t come from a rural environment where this rule of the road was taught at an early age.

Let’s start a campaign to teach everyone out there walking for your health or whatever to always walk on the left side of the street facing oncoming traffic Do not walk on the right side of the street with your back to oncoming traffic.

— By Robert Doug Petersen

Author Robert Doug Petersen lives in Edmonds

  1. I appreciate the sentiment and looking out for the safety of pedestrians, thank you for bringing it to our attention. However, effort shouldn’t be put towards campaigns on walking safety. It should be put towards campaigning for more sidewalks.

    This is a major metro area and this incident happened in a populated and heavily growing suburban city, there’s no excuse to not have sidewalks.

    1. I agree with you both (face traffic and build sidewalks) but at the end of the day, the law of gross tonnage still applies. The people driving the 2+ ton vehicles need to pay more attention.

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