Vision Zero Failure by Billie Grace Ward licensed under Creative Commons.

Contributor Matt' Johnson posted the following story on Twitter, which we are reposting with his permission.

Thursday evening at about 8:25, I was walking to Silver Spring Metro station. I was about two blocks from the station in an area that is highly urbanized and well-lit. This area has very high pedestrian volumes at all hours of the day.

Now, I'll admit that I am wearing a dark coat, but I'm wearing light colored blue jeans and I have fair skin and blond hair. I'm 6'-0” tall.

The street I was on has both driver-oriented over-street and pedestrian-oriented lighting, and is basically as bright as anyone could ask.

As I crossed a one-block-long dead-end side street, a driver approached from the side street (my right) and ran the stop sign and somewhere around 15-20 mph, by my estimation.

As she approached, I was about midway across the lane going the opposite direction.

I took perhaps one more step before it became apparent she was not going to stop before entering the *marked* crosswalk, and I stopped, about half a step from the centerline.

I loudly held “HEY! HEY!! HEY!!!” and waved my arms. She did not stop.

Instead, she proceeded across the crosswalk and into the intersection, which, by the way, does not have any stop control. Luckily there were no motorists approaching, though a bus had passed seconds before.

After she cleared the crosswalk, I resumed crossing.

Surprisingly, she actually stopped after clearing the first lane, so that she was sitting in the two-way left turn lane.

She rolled her window down and said, “I am so sorry!”

And I yelled back, “You ran the stop sign! You didn't stop at the crosswalk. It only takes a second!”

She repeated, “I am so sorry.”

Disgusted, and with a train to catch, I turned and walked away. A pedestrian on the other side of the street yelled over, “are you okay?” and I said I was.

Now, for the analysis.

If this lady had hit me, I probably would've been mostly okay. The speed was low enough that I likely would've survived. Additionally, she was driving a sedan and I'm tall. I would likely have fallen on her hood and rolled off the side.

However, if she'd been driving an SUV, or if I was shorter, I could have been pushed down, in front of the car and then run over. This is a major hazard that SUVs and trucks pose to pedestrians.

And speed matters. At 20 mph, a pedestrian has a 90% chance of survival. At 40, 10%.

If I had died in this crash, I guarantee you that the lady would've told the police, “I didn't see him.” Or “He came out of nowhere.”

This is what that means. What happened to me is what that means.

I did not come out of nowhere. I was walking down a well-lit sidewalk in a marked crosswalk with high-viz striping in an urban area near a subway station.

She didn't see me because she wasn't looking for me.

She didn't see me because she wasn't careful.

If I hadn't yelled out, she probably wouldn't have even known that she'd nearly struck a pedestrian. She got lucky.

I got lucky, though I was also walking defensively and was aware of my surroundings.

Why did this happen? Did she simply miss the stop sign?

No. This is a dead-end street. She probably drives this street every day.

She was in a hurry. She didn't see me because she was looking to her right to see if there was approaching traffic. There wasn't.

So that's what it means when a driver says “I didn't see him.”

I had *everything* on my side.
Excellent street lighting.
A well-marked crosswalk.
High pedestrian volumes.
Tight curb radii.
Low speed limits.

And she still didn't see me.

Because she didn't try.

She did stop to say sorry.

But I don't find that comforting. Would she have apologized to my body? To my parents? Probably.

Would it have mattered? No.

I don't want her to apologize. I want her to practice caution when driving. To stop at stop signs.

These are just my reflections as someone who does street (re)design professionally, and who gets around almost entirely on foot, by bike, and by transit.

I'm okay. I'm not even shaken up. Just angry.

But next time you hear “I didn't see him,” remember this thread.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master’s in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Dupont Circle. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.