North Texas resident has new perspective on pedestrian safety after being hit in crosswalk
Reposted from The North Central Texas Council of Governments
It was getting late in the afternoon, and LaKisha Bivins had not eaten lunch. She was hungry and needed some fuel to help her get through the rest of the day. Living in the Victory Park area of Dallas, Bivins had many options.
She could make her lunch and enjoy it in the comfort of her home, take a picnic lunch to a nearby park, or grab a bite to eat at any of the numerous delicious restaurants within walking distance of her home. One of the many benefits Bivens enjoys about her walkable neighborhood is how quickly she can get to areas such as the West End, Uptown and downtown on foot.
“As a self-professed foodie, I have a variety of dining spots around me in walking distance,” she said. “And now that I work from home, there are days where my car doesn't leave the parking garage. I feel pretty safe walking around, especially during the day.”
On this particular day in December, it was sunny, and the weather was beautiful. An online content manager at a retail company, Bivins had worked right through the lunch hour and wanted a break. Like many North Texans, Bivins had shifted from her office to working from home at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I had had my nose to the grind all morning, and it was around 2 p.m. that I felt the need to venture out, more so for the fresh air to clear my head,” she said. “Strolling to my happy place seemed like a win-win.”
She put on her sneakers and set out for Flower Child, one of her favorite lunch spots. She enjoys the restaurant’s Mother Earth Bowl with salmon add-on, which the menu describes in part as a dish with “ancient grains, sweet potato, portobello mushroom, avocado, cucumber, broccoli pesto, charred onion, leafy greens.”
“This place makes me feel healthy and the restaurant’s décor is so vibrant with color and inspiring quotes,” she said. “Plus, the patio at the Cedar Springs location is expansive and very inviting with umbrellas.”
Before leaving for lunch, Bivins put her laptop in her backpack so she could do some work after finishing her lunch.
On her way to the restaurant, her leisurely walk was interrupted.
As she prepared to cross Field Street, Bivins set foot into the crosswalk, and she was knocked off her feet – by an SUV.
The vehicle was turning from Ashland to Field Street, and the driver did not see her.
Fortunately, she was not hurt badly – she was able to get up and grab her sunglasses, which had been knocked to the ground by the impact. The driver stopped and provided her his name and phone number, and some bystanders also came over to help.
“It really didn’t dawn on me that I’d actually been hit doing something so simple,” she said. “I am very grateful some concerned witnesses checked on me after the driver left the scene as well. One guy walking his dog actually came over to say he had gotten a pic of the guy’s license plate, which I needed. And most importantly, thank God, no broken bones and only minor injuries.”
Bivins still enjoys her walkable surroundings, but the incident forced her to change her approach to one of anticipation.
“Now, I am more watchful when crossing the street,” she said. “I don’t simply look in the direction of where I’m going. I look to see if a car is still accelerating my way.”
She has advice for both pedestrians and drivers.
“For pedestrians, my advice would be: Don’t take chances. I see people running through the streets trying to beat cars all the time,” she said. “Too risky.”
What’s her message for drivers?
“Don’t multitask. It’s easy to become an overconfident driver, thinking you can perform multiple tasks and drive a 4,000-pound vehicle,” she said. “Doing a lot of extra stuff decreases the chance of being ready to make quick adjustments while driving. As in my case, had the driver truly been focused, he would have seen me directly in front of him and been able to make adjustments.”
Bivins’ experience is not unique in Dallas-Fort Worth. Between 2015 and 2019, there were more than 10,500 reported vehicle crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists. The Federal Highway Administration has designated both Dallas and Fort Worth as Pedestrian-Bicycle Focus Cities, which were selected based on high rates of crash fatalities.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments has relaunched Look Out Texans, a safety campaign encouraging residents to watch out for one another, offering specific tips to bike, walk and drive safely together. A safe environment on the roads requires cooperation from everyone. For information on the campaign, including tips on how to make the roads safer for all, visit www.lookouttexans.org.
Following the accident, LaKisha is more cautious when she ventures out in her neighborhood, even for short trips.
“My awareness level is heightened now. I really notice this with my friends as they are more casual with the crosswalk,” she said. “I’m definitely subtly and not so subtly eyeing cars as I enter the crosswalk--all the way to the finish line!”