Officer cites 82-year-old woman for being too slow to negotiate busy street

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Stella, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Stella macrumors G3


    Apr 21, 2003
    This is just sick...

    Officer cites 82-year-old woman for being too slow to negotiate busy street
    Dana Bartholomew, Staff writer


    Mayvis Coyle, 82, was shuffling with her cane across busy Foothill Boulevard while a traffic police officer watched and waited.

    And watched and waited.

    Even before Coyle finished crossing the intersection at Woodward Avenue, he had scribbled a $114 ticket for crossing against a don't-walk signal. "I entered the crosswalk, it was green," said Coyle, of Sunland, who is fighting the infraction issued Feb. 15. "It turned red before I could get over. There he was, waiting, the motorcycle cop.

    "He said, `You're obstructing the flow of traffic."'

    Coyle and other seniors at Monte Vista Mobile Estates are up in arms over signals they say are too short to safely cross the five-lane boulevard.

    They say signals turn red before they can reach the opposite curb on Sunland-Tujunga's busiest thoroughfare. They risk their lives each time they enter the crosswalk, they insist. At least one resident calls a cab just to cross the street.

    "I can go halfway, then the light changes," said Edith Krause, 78, who uses an electric cart because she has difficulty walking. "I try my darndest to get to the other side without being killed."

    So many seniors have complained about hasty intersections that Councilwoman Wendy Greuel asked transportation officials last week to study how to accommodate them.

    The standard speed used for timing pedestrians is 4 feet per second.

    The Coyle incident "has brought to bear an issue that is relatively common," Greuel said. "We should look at those areas with predominantly seniors and accommodate their needs in intersections."

    The danger to pedestrians - particularly senior citizens - is acute, Los Angeles police say. Of the 94 pedestrians killed in the San Fernando Valley from 2003-05 while crossing the street, 31 were seniors.

    Sgt. Mike Zaboski of the Valley Traffic Division said he couldn't comment on Coyle's ticket, that it was her word against the officer who cited her - identified only as Officer Kelly - as to whether she entered the crosswalk on the green.

    "Right now, pedestrian accidents are above normal," he said Friday. "We're looking out for pedestrians - people who think they have carte blanche in crossing the street.

    "I'd rather not have angry pedestrians," he said of those


    like Coyle. "But I'd rather have them be alive."

    "It's a safety concern," added Jerry Baik, an assistant supervisor of trials for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office prosecutes traffic infractions like Coyle's.

    "It's the officer's observation ... that she was acting in a dangerous way to herself as well as oncoming traffic."

    Others besides Coyle, however, say signals on Foothill prompt a foot race to the other side.

    On Friday, students ran - not walked - to make the lights, measured at 20 seconds from green to red.

    "It sucks," said Sara Johnson, 14, of Sunland, who had just scampered with friends across the crosswalk at Woodward. "When the light turns red, you can't cross the street."

    Chung Kim, manager of Jimmie Dean's Charbroiled Burgers at Foothill and Woodward, has seen close calls.

    "Very hard to cross," he said, watching the intersection from his grill, "because signal's too short, the cars go so fast, every car over 45 miles per hour. It's crazy."

    Coyle, a Cherokee medicine woman who splits her time between Sunland and the mountains above Sedalia, Colo., has done everything to fight her ticket, including send letters to Greuel's office.

    The octogenarian, who has no phone or car, said she was simply hefting her groceries home when she not only got trapped in a busy intersection but got a ticket from a cop to boot.

    "I think it's completely outrageous," said Coyle, wearing an Indian feather cap and homemade rock pendant. "I can't walk without a stick and I lose my balance.

    "He treated me like a 6-year-old, like I don't know what I'm doing. I'm in shock that somebody's going to stop me on a green light while crossing the street."
  2. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
    I dont know whats worse the police state or becoming an old fart. They both suck.
  3. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    There are going to be a lot more issues like this in the coming decades. Crosswalks and a lot of other things are designed for young people not the elderly, the elderly are a lot more vocal today as well. Expect everyone's lives to be changed by the greying of the world.

    It's probably pretty easy to fix that intersection but it's going to mean a longer wait for drivers and that's not going to make them happy either.
  4. xsedrinam macrumors 601


    Oct 21, 2004
    My mother drove until she was 89. She sideswiped (read: two different vehicles) on her way to take her drivers license exam for renewal in the State of IL. She was given a license. Another subsequent accident where she left turned in to the path of an on-coming vehicle precipitated her decline physically and mentally. She passed away two years ago at the age of 94. Just today, we witnessed an elderly lady who abruptly pulled across three lanes to make a right hand exit. It caused screeching brakes, but no accidents in the three, violated lanes of traffic.
  5. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    Yeah, I've had my share of almost-accidents with the elderly. Sometimes it's as simple as following them at a safe distance, and having them turn a corner. Ever see an elderly person do 35 until they make a right turn? For some reason, then the speed drops to, like, 5 mph. You have to break harder than normal to not rear-end them as it takes them a full 15 seconds or more to negotiate a single turn.

    Folks like that are, I'm sorry, a hazard to others as well as themselves.

    In the case of this crosswalk, it sounds like there's some blame on both sides. If kids say the light is too short, then it's too damned short! Perhaps the timing can be adjusted to accommodate older people more, but there's a limit to where that makes sense. In this lady's case, it sounds like it would take her two or three normal light changes to cross the street. Could you imagine what that would do to traffic if you were to time the crosswalk specifically for her?

    So while perhaps the crosswalk light needs to be lengthened a bit, I think what this woman needs is either someone to drive her places, or some kind of scooter (assuming she's got the reflexes to drive one).
  6. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
    Makes me glad I live in a country where it is still permissible to walk.
  7. Lyle macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2003
    Madison, Alabama
    The city of Huntsville recently added an elevated crosswalk (if that's the right term for it) across University Drive, one our busiest roads. The crosswalk is convenient to a nearby school, so that kids walking to or from school don't have to run for their lives (literally) across a busy four-lane road.

    I have no idea how much the construction cost, but it seems like something that could help in the situation described in the news article.
  8. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Actually, I find them much more likely to drive at a constant 20-25 mph. That includes on roads with speed limits of 45+ and through stop signs.
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    Elevated as in walking over the cars? A pedestrian overpass. Probably in the neighborhood of a million bucks. More if there are several lanes of traffic to span, or other reasons for long spans.

    Nearly half the crosswalks in one town around here don't meet ADA requirements. The city is facing spending some huge percentage of their general revenue for the next 5 years minimum just to bring them up to current code. Something like $30k apiece, average. Ouch.
  10. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Some of the Detroit suburbs have these.... But they're mostly in places where they are not used frequently, and were probably put there for reasons that made sense a long time ago....

    4 ft/s seems somewhat fast to me for anyone with a problem in ambulation. Even an individual on crutches with a broken foot or leg might have trouble with that. Pedestrians of varying abilities, within reasonable limits, should be able to safely cross the street....
  11. Lyle macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2003
    Madison, Alabama
    Yes, that's what I meant. Yikes, I had no idea they cost that much. :(
  12. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    I heard on the radio that the police are considering dropping the charges because of all the phone calls. Considering. Even the local police are getting phone calls, which is unfortunate because it turns out it was actually one from L.A., not San Fernando. Least that's what they said.

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