Being Proactive Rather Reactive

proactive |prōˈaktiv|adjective(of a person, policy, or action) creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened : be proactive in identifying and preventing potential problems.
reactive |rēˈaktiv|adjectiveshowing a response to a stimulus : pupils are reactive to light.acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it : proactive rather than a reactive approach.

There is a clear example happening right now of how the City of Eugene needs to improve it’s standard operations to increase safety and comfort for students and families by being proactive rather than reactive.  A group of parents and staff have been asking for a marked crosswalk in front of the Village school for years.  A recent exchange between parents and Public Works (Traffic Operations Department) highlights the city’s lack of interest in answering parent concerns and increasing comfort and safety for families even though they have stated that is a goal.

A clear example of the false logic that is driving (pardon the pun) the City to not place a crosswalk was stated in an email from Traffic Operations:

Marking the crosswalk puts no additional burden on the driver.  Marking crosswalks does not make the crossing appreciably safer.  Just because drivers might see the crosswalk marking, doesn’t mean they will respond any differently.  Younger children on the other hand often erroneously think that cars will stop because of the marking, leading to a false sense of security.  In much of the research, the safest crossing is the unmarked crossing, in part because there is no pedestrian expectation that cars will stop.

This type of logic is not only false but it is holding us back as a community that encourages active modes of transportation.  The safest crossing is NOT the unmarked crosswalk and research has shown the opposite. When done correctly and in the right locations crosswalks DO increase safety, that’s why National and State transportation agencies have specific policies about placing crosswalks at schools!

The simple request to place a marked crosswalk on a street right in front of the school is being delayed yet again with a request for another meeting to discuss the topic.  This is not a topic that needs discussion, it is a crosswalk directly in front of a school.  If the city cannot even do this how can we expect proactive and progressive changes that will encourage more students and families to walk and bike?!

This is one symptom. There are other requests from other schools and other barriers that only tragedy seems to be able to break through.  A safe crossing on Bailey Hill was talked about for years.  Tragedy brought change.  We don’t need to continue the reactivity, we need proactivity now!  We need safer crossings, school zones marked, better signal timing, reduced speeds, safer routes, etc. We need streets that are safe for families who want to walk or bike more but are fearful and we need the city to take the lead in creating that environment.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 April 29
    Jennifer permalink

    Is this yet another example of the language barrier between engineers and planners?

  2. 2010 April 29
    Jennifer Sherlock permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am AMAZED there is any resistance whatsoever to this request and I was amazed to read a city official claiming crosswalks can actually make crossings LESS safe. Wow. Again, thank you. And I think framing the situation around being proactive vs reactive is a good perspective to take.

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