I know many hearts are broken over the loss of Laguna College of Art + Design student Nina Fitzpatrick, a pedestrian who died after being hit by a car in a crosswalk. But sympathy, while heartfelt, is little consolation for her friends and family.
I wish tragedy was not a prerequisite for learning how precious and fragile life is, but it seems we have a difficult time with this lesson.
If we as a community had learned this lesson, then a bridge might have been built for the student body. Or perhaps, short of a bridge, a proper street light might have been installed. Short of a proper street light, maybe a little extra signage would have helped, something indicating to drivers that they are entering a school zone, that students are crossing the street night and day.
But instead we installed this idiotic contraption, a crosswalk with flashing lights on the asphalt, which appears to confuse even well-intended drivers. We do not need to see the statistics to know that this contraption has never worked.
It doesn't prevent accidents. It doesn't prevent students from getting run over. It doesn't even facilitate a smooth flow of traffic. Rear-end collisions at this location are commonplace. Near misses, whether between cars or between cars and pedestrians, are accruing.
The pathetic truth of this matter is quite simple — the loss of life at this location was an expected outcome. Laguna Canyon Road is a nothing short of an engineering failure, and this tragedy is only another example of how poorly this road serves its users.
Unless we take responsibility and action, this horrific outcome will be repeated.
Unite to make road safer
Our family is devastated by the tragic death of Laguna College of Art + Design student Nina Fitzpatrick. Our prayers are with her family and the LCAD community coping with this tremendous loss.
Our son, a classmate, witnesses crashes often and continues to face personal hazard in getting to his classes. On our occasional visits to the community, we have found Laguna Canyon Road hazardous to drive and downright frightening as pedestrians.
In our city, we live near a university campus located on a state-governed roadway within city limits. Cars traveled too fast along this road and, for many years, we witnessed countless accidents. Our neighborhood council pleaded with state traffic engineers and elected officials to reduce car speed and improve safety.
Time after time, state and local officials patiently presented their traffic studies and smoothly articulated reasons for doing nothing.
Eventually, a well-liked member of our community was senselessly killed by a car traveling too fast on this roadway after a football game. The same traffic engineers and elected officials amazingly found ways to work together to get things done.
I am happy to report that it has made a huge difference in the quality of life around campus. Car speed is reduced at least 15 mph, and the safety enhancements installed make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate the road. The solutions were easy once everyone decided to solve the problem.
We ask that your regional traffic engineers and elected officials work together, right now, to solve the problems: cars traveling too fast and lack of safety enhancements for pedestrians and bicyclists. The technology is easy. The difficulty is deciding to work together to overcome the hurdle of inertia.