My paranoia surrounding walking across the streets of Portland isn’t totally unfounded. Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve had this growing phobia of crossing city streets for months now. Like so many of my personal issues, I blame it on viral videos, like those which feature pedestrians dodging vehicles and sudden death at the very last moment.
Tragedy struck in the Old Town district of Portland on Saturday night when five pedestrians were hit by a TriMet bus while crossing a crosswalk. The pedestrians had the walk sign but were hit by the bus that was turning left. Two of the pedestrians were pinned under the bus and died. Another was taken to the hospital, but has since been upgraded to fair condition. The other two suffered only minor injuries.
This happened in a well-lit part of town under driver-friendly conditions. The investigation is still under way, but you can bet Portland pedestrians like myself are taking extra caution when crossing crosswalks. I’m sure this was a flukey thing, but this is also a city that places crosswalks flat in the middle of its busiest streets, away from intersections. It’s a surprise these things don’t happen more often.
If I get hit, it’ll most likely be on the way to work in the morning. On a sunny morning, the sun beams like a laser over the Cascades, cutting through the streets of downtown. I’ve been a lot of places but never seen sunrises brighter than the ones here. There have been mornings my girlfriend has driven me to work, and it may just be me, but without sunglasses, I couldn’t see a thing. God forbid I ever cross the wrong street on the wrong mornin morning. If a westbound car hit me, I couldn’t even be mad.
I also don’t do myself any favors by listening to my iPhone when I walk. My hearing is completely occupied by NPR podcasts in the morning, so I imagine a scenario where I get hit by a vehicle playing out like an episode from CSI: Miami. (If you’re unfamiliar, it’s critical you click here.)
The driver tells the police on scene his brakes went out and he honked and yelled, but it was like I couldn’t hear him.
Frank: (Picking up my iPhone) “Looks like he was listening to All Things Considered.”
Horatio: “Maybe he should’ve considered dodging that car.”
(Queue theme music: “Yeeeeaaaaaaah!”)
The resolution here is pretty obvious: Pay more attention to my surroundings, eliminate distractions and don’t set Horatio up for a one-liner. Enough said.