“Pedestrians must do their part to avoid accidents”: La Jollan distributes reflective equipment at the weekly market

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While many La Jollans wait for darkened streetlights to be repaired, one resident is doing her part to promote pedestrian safety at night by handing out free reflective gear at the weekly La Jolla Open Aire Market.

“In the city of La Jolla, the streets are dark. After sunset, visibility is poor, especially if there is fog or a sea layer,” said Laurie Block. “There are skateboarders, cyclists, surfers returning from the beach, pedestrians walking dogs, motorized wheelchairs, electric scooters… children playing in the street and elderly drivers. Often, pedestrians… seem distracted by smartphones, texting or listening to music. The lack of streetlights combined with people being distracted is making our streets increasingly unsafe.”

Block said he observed that many side streets and alleys in La Jolla frequented by cars and pedestrians are not well lit. As a healthcare professional, the dietitian said she believes in prevention and sees the use of reflective gear as a way to avoid dangerous encounters with vehicles.

“During the pandemic, many have been exposed to the concept of masks and personal protective equipment to guard against COVID-19,” Block said. “My view is that pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility, and we should use personal protective clothing to protect ourselves.”

She started buying high visibility safety apparel in the form of hats, jackets, wristbands, shirts and more. The reflective materials used in the items direct a large portion of a light beam — like a headlight — toward its source, Block said.

“High visibility safety clothing has the ability to help the driver concentrate,” she said. “Retro-reflective clothing has been shown to not only facilitate early recognition of pedestrians by the driver, but also increase their accuracy in determining the direction pedestrians are walking when crossing the street.”

Block said she wanted to distribute the clothes at the La Jolla Open Aire market because it is “frequented by many members of our local community.” Plus, being on the grounds of La Jolla Elementary School, it’s “a perfect place to educate families and the community,” she added.

“We teach our children to stop, look and listen as they cross the [street]but everyone should follow similar safety precautions.

The Open Aire market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays on Avenue Girard and Rue Genter.

Block, from New York, said she knows pedestrians have to co-exist with fast cars, cyclists, taxi drivers and big buses that can impede visibility, and she said she’d like to see ” drivers move slowly, especially at intersections”. But pedestrians, cyclists and others should also exercise caution, “especially when they have headphones, [and] Avoid texting or using phones in crowded areas or on poorly lit streets.

Block noted that the City of San Diego’s Vision Zero plan is to have no traffic-related deaths or serious injuries by 2025. “The city has begun making pedestrian safety the order of the day,” she said. “There has been some success in implementing high-visibility crosswalks or flashing lights and digital countdown arrows.”

But until Vision Zero is a reality, “pedestrians must do their part to avoid accidents,” she said. “People [must] begin to take on some responsibility to protect themselves. ◆

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