Bakersfield ranked 7th deadliest city in the nation for pedestrians

March 27, 2019 | 1:11 pm


In recent years, Kern County has seen the number of pedestrian accidents rise to an alarming rate. In fact, a new study ranks Bakersfield as the seventh deadliest city in the United States for pedestrians.

Between 2008 to 2017, Bakersfield saw a total of 247 pedestrian deaths, bringing the annual pedestrian fatality rate to 2.83 per 100,000 residents, according to the report titled “Dangerous By Design” by Smart Growth America, an advocacy group that studies metropolitan expansion. While the number of pedestrians has only increased by a mere 1 percent during the past decade, Bakersfield saw fatalities of pedestrians rise an alarming 35.4 percent.

“It is crucial that we hold pedestrian safety to the highest degree or these statistics will only continue to get worse,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which represents victims of motor vehicle accidents, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

 

Deadliest cities for pedestrians

Bakersfield is the only California city ranked in the top 23 worst cities for pedestrians, according to the study that looked at pedestrian safety in cities of different sizes, density, and rates of walking.

Part of the problem, according to the study, is that road designs continue to be tailored to drivers only, and are not taking pedestrian safety into account. Unnecessarily wide lanes with high speed limits and few sidewalks are also to blame.

Many pedestrian deaths in Bakersfield occurred on Union Avenue and in areas east of Highway 99, according to an interactive map.

“Dangerous by Design” calls upon the federal government to do something about this problem since federal regulations and dollars helped create unsafe conditions to begin with. It calls on U.S. Congress to adopt policies to make it mandatory to consider everyone’s use or our streets, and not only drivers. The report also asks over 1,400 communities to adopt policies to focus on applying ideas to help make a safer reality for all, as well as talking to locally elected officials, and raising awareness for the problem.

 

Local pedestrian safety

Several local efforts are underway with pedestrian safety in mind.

Walk Kern, a Kern County Public Works Department project devoted to providing safe pedestrian and bicycle paths around Kern County, has completed over 60 pedestrian and bicycle trails including “Walk Rexland,” “Walk Rosamond, and “Walk Lamont” to name a few. Future trails include Walk Belle Terrace, Walk South Chester, and Walk Lake Isabella.

The “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan” — a partnership with California Department of Transportation — also aims to examine the city’s roadways to determine which are the most dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians and recommend design improvements, including more bike lanes, more signage, and new pedestrian and bike paths away from traffic. Improving and creating more crosswalks, and educating pedestrians and drivers on the rules of the road are just some efforts officials hope will help reduce pedestrian deaths.

A $30,000 grant for Bakersfield Police Department from the California Office of Traffic Safety is funding a variety of educational activities like bike rodeos, classroom presentations and community events aimed at teaching youth and adults about traffic rules, rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian and bicyclist.

And the Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has been doing its part to raise awareness and promote bicycle and pedestrian safety. Noting a lack of lighting throughout Bakersfield at night, the law firm teams up with local bicycle advocacy nonprofit Bike Bakersfield each year to give away hundreds of free bike lights and safety helmets in a project called Project Light up the Night.

 

How to stay safe

It’s up to pedestrians and drivers alike to make sure everyone gets home safe. Take these safety tips into account no matter if you’re behind the wheel, or taking a stroll:

Drivers:

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

Pedestrians:

  • Be obvious and predictable, crossing at crosswalks or intersections only, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk
  • Make eye contact with drivers; never assume a driver sees you
  • Look left-right-left before stepping into a crosswalk. Having a green light or the “WALK” signal does not mean that it is safe to cross
  • Look for cars baking up, including white backup lights or signs the vehicle is running.
  • Don’t dart out between parked cars
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t walk and use your phone at the same time
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials at night
  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic, and if there is no sidewalk, walk as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.

— Martin Esteves contributed to this report.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a pedestrian accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Safety Tips: Catch them all, but be careful while playing Pokémon Go

September 7, 2016 | 6:00 am


By now, you’ve likely heard of the game Pokemon Go, which has taken the country by storm and has been a huge hit for gamers of all ages. And if you have heard of the game, then you’ve probably heard of various incidents of people getting injured while playing. 

The Bakersfield injury, accident and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles remind all gamers to practice safety while playing Pokémon Go, and read the tips below for an injury-free experience.

If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, click here to learn all about the game. In short, it’s a location-based reality game in which players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. And it’s free!

There are 150 different types of Pokémon to be caught, but to catch them you have to find them first, and the game requires you to walk around to find Pokemon. “Poke stops” are everywhere, including at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Visit the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to find it full of kids, teens, and adults walking around catching Pokemon on their phones.

And while the game has players out and about being active, it’s also led to injuries and other incidents caused by distracted playing. In the last few weeks, Pokemon Go has been connected to the following incidents in the United States:

  • A 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl was struck by a car while playing (WPXI)
  • A 28-year-old driver in Auburn crashed into a tree while playing (Auburnpub.com)
  • Two men fell off cliffs in Encinitas while playing. (San Diego Tribune)
  • A man crashed into a parked police cruiser while playing the game. (Huffington Post)

The problem lies in distracted playing, as players focus on the phone in front of them instead of their surroundings. Please follow these tips to stay safe while catching Pokemon:

  • Do not go out alone to play Pokemon Go.
  • Always check your surroundings while playing.
  • Be alert at all times while playing.
  • Do not trespass onto private property.
  • Let someone know where you are going to be when venturing out.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, catch Pokemon while driving.
  • Do not go into unsafe or suspicious areas to catch a Pokemon.

Just recently, Pokemon Go updated the game to include safety warnings such as “remember to be alert at all times,” “stay aware of your surroundings,” “Do not trespass while playing Pokémon Go,” “Do not play Pokémon Go while driving,” and “Do not enter dangerous areas while playing Pokémon Go.”

And most recently, The California State Assembly introduced a measure that would expand the ban on texting while driving to include other distracting operations of smartphones, including searching for “Pokemon Go” characters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Playing Pokemon Go is a great way to get active and explore areas around you, but Chain | Cohn | Stiles advises you to not put yours or others’ lives at risk to catch a Pokemon.

— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.