My Turn: Keeping peds out of peril in Kings Beach
This is in response to the article Pedestrian Peril in the Sept. 19 issue of the Sierra Sun.As I read this article (and have read many more like it) I could not believe how absurd it sounds that the reason why we continue to have pedestrian accidents in Kings Beach is due to …everyone cannot come to an agreement. So what is it going to take to fix the problem? Rather than dramatizing the situation by answering another death as many have stated, why not make this the number-one issue for those involved in the decision making? Something as important as this needs top priority and needs to be worked on until the problem is solved. Just like a jury trial, sequester the decision-makers until a doable and reasonable solution is approved.Here are my thoughts on the solution: (1) I think roundabouts are a bad idea. How many people have voiced their frustrations in regard to the roundabouts in Truckee? Roundabouts are also confusing for those who do not encounter them regularly, like tourists and infrequent drivers to the affected area. (2) I think a stop light is also a bad idea because the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, is way too heavy during peak summer months and weekends to frequently stop traffic, take Crystal Bay for example. (3) I think the best option, and this is strictly an amateurs opinion based on observations, is to cut the highway down to three lanes. This would solve more than just the pedestrian problem. (a) It is nearly impossible to make a left turn from a driveway along the highway without putting one’s own life in danger, particularly during peak times. (b) It is also difficult to make a left turn into a driveway, which holds up the traffic in the left lane and causes drivers behind the turning vehicle to take unnecessary risk to go around the turning vehicle. (c) Cutting the highway down to three lanes, one in each direction and a left turn lane in the middle, would solve all of these problems while keeping traffic flowing better than could be accomplished with a stop light. When the lead driver in each direction stops to let pedestrians cross, drivers behind them will have to stop as well. This also eliminates the issue of not being able to see around a standing vehicle when the driver in the second lane approaches the crosswalk. Great examples of the three-lane concept are in use in Incline Village and Tahoe City.As a final note, the most important thing to remember is that a decision needs to be made soon. Sometimes inaction can be more dangerous, as in this case, than a less-than-ideal solution. People are being killed and severely injured. The drivers lives are affected as well, since they are being charged with vehicular manslaughter and the like. The only people not being directly affected are the decision-makers, who, in my opinion, are the most responsible for the persistence of this problem. Something has to be done to prevent additional injuries and deaths. This is a serious issue and those responsible need to be responsible and get it taken care of quickly. While I understand that repainting the highway will take time (and is probably less expensive and quicker to install than roundabouts and stop lights) perhaps an immediate-term solution would be to hire crossing guards, or borrow some from the school district, to ensure that pedestrians are able to cross safely and drivers are able to drive through the area without fear of hitting or accidentally killing someone.Kim Dorris is a Kings Beach-area employee, Incline Village resident and a concerned citizen.
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