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A unique perspective on Tucson street safety

Posted at 2:26 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 17:26:07-04

On the southeast corner of Grant and Alvernon, Marc Doutherd sells phones and watches the cars and the people go by. He sits there from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

"I see both drivers and pedestrians doing things they shouldn't do," he said.

At this intersection, Doutherd says there's rarely a dull moment, and he's seen it all. Sometimes, it's the drivers who catch his attention, for being overly aggressive and impatient.

"They start trying to go around them, they yell, they throw things out the window, threaten the other drivers," Doutherd said. "There was a guy that was like three or four cars back. He didn't want to wait for the light. So he got in the oncoming traffic in the oncoming lane to make a left hand turn here at the intersection."

But at other times, it's the pedestrians who catch his eye. He says at times, they act like they own the road and will walk out into the middle of traffic, when they're not supposed to.

"I have seen some people pull over and abide by the law, but I've also seen people try to rush through the intersection and cause more harm than good," he said. "I saw a person attack a car, they didn't do really well up against the steel and the bumper, but they tried and moved on. That was probably one of the most bizarre things I've seen."

While he spends the majority of his time at Grant and Alvernon, he knows these kinds of things can happen anywhere, especially at busy intersections around town.

"It only takes a couple of seconds for accidents to happen," he said.

Some of the busiest intersections around town include Broadway and Wilmot, Broadway and Kolb, Golf Links and Kolb, and Speedway and Campbell, according to Paul Casertano, Transportation Program Administrator with the Pima Association of Governments and Regional Transportation Authority.

As of May 15, 2018, 12 pedestrians have died as a result of accidents in Tucson.

In the hopes of making Tucson streets safer for all, the Living Streets Alliance is working with the City of Tucson to draft a "complete streets policy." 

"Complete streets policies formalize a city's intent to plan, design, and maintain streets so they are safe for people of all ages and abilities," according to a write-up on the Living Streets Alliance website. "Policies direct transportation planners, engineers, and other decision-makers to start building safe streets and a reliable transportation network for people walking, biking, driving, and taking public transit."

Back to Doutherd, who knows Grant and Alvernon better than most. He says regardless of who's at fault, it's upsetting to know how many people are killed on the roads, especially when it's a car versus a person.

"We have to share the intersection with the cars and the pedestrians," he said. "If people spent a little bit more time paying attention to some of the rules, then we'd have a lot less accidents."