Be Aware of Laguna’s Many Distractions



Nina Fitzpatrick’s sad and tragic death brings to mind the many pedestrian fatalities and injuries this city has dealt with through the years. This past week, each time I drive through the canyon, the yellow crash scene paint and the ash from the flares remind me that a young, talented, and loved person has been killed.

Yet despite more signals, more lights, more flashers, and more laws, pedestrians are still being injured and killed in Laguna and elsewhere. Crossing at the recently proposed signal at LCAD would not save anybody if someone runs the red light and you are in your bubble of false security. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I think we need to look at this problem through another lens.

I may be standing on an unpopular platform, but having lived in New York City, I have never felt that I, as a pedestrian, have had any right of way over a car. The physics just don’t pan out. You might as well make landslides and volcanoes illegal.

When I got my first motorcycle 40 years ago, my mentor told me to ride like nobody sees you. In fact, he told me to ride like motorists are trying to kill you. Also, he encouraged me to be alert to each and every possible threat. Thanks to my training, I have anticipated left turns in front of me despite my having “the right of way,” I have seen several cars run red lights, which, if I exercised “my right of way” would have killed me, and I have avoided debris kicked up by cars and trucks. I use this same thinking when crossing any street and it, too, has saved my life. In fact, I will not step into Coast Highway until traffic in both directions is completely stopped and nobody is coming up fast behind the stopped cars.

Laguna has much to offer, perhaps too much. Consequently, distracted drivers dominate traffic and distracted pedestrians crowd the sidewalks. How pedestrians ever got this “right of way” concept in their heads I have no idea, but it has not helped them in the least.

I do not know the specifics of what caused or contributed to the crash, and finding out will not lessen anybody’s grief, but I know that following a few simple rules and respecting physics would help all of us.

Youtube search:  ‘Distracted Walking’ study looks at texting pedestrians.

Mike Rybah, Laguna Beach

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