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Dear Editor,

Do you walk and jog on the sidewalk or in the roadway? With all the construction on the NIH campus, pedestrians and drivers must use increased caution to avoid life-threatening collisions. Many areas around construction sites have diminished visual fields from fences and construction equipment, and several sidewalks have been blocked or removed on the construction side of the street. However, NIH has seen fit to provide safe sidewalks on both sides of the street but pedestrians don't seem to be able to adjust their accustomed path of travel.

The area of South Drive between Bldg. 9 and the construction site of Bldg. 50 is particularly hazardous. This high-traffic area is the main thoroughfare where Metro riders walk to the subway and bus stops, and is also a main drive for automobiles through NIH. On the Bldg. 50 side of the street, there is no sidewalk and construction fencing comes all the way out to the curb. On the Bldg. 9 side, a perfectly good although heavily traveled sidewalk parallels the same roadway but many pedestrians insist on walking in the road where heavy traffic must swerve toward oncoming cars to avoid hitting pedestrians.

The area of Center and West Drives is another area where pedestrians seem to enjoy playing a dangerous game of chicken with automobiles. One man was seen daily walking down the entire length of West Drive on the center double yellow line, completely ignoring the sidewalk that ran past the Children's Inn. Recently, a jogger was seen jogging down the middle of Center Drive, as three cars and one large van approached him head-on. An empty sidewalk was available on the other side of the road but he foolishly insisted on using the middle of the road.

Something is very wrong with a society that places individual selfishness and thrill-seeking above the general safety of all. Pedestrians obviously do not realize that they do not automatically have the right-of-way. Pedestrians only have the right-of-way in controlled intersections and marked crosswalks. That preference is limited and the pedestrian has a specific duty to exercise good judgment by not entering the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at any other point must yield to any approaching vehicle.

If this doesn't get through to you jaywalking pedestrians, remember this: being right or wrong won't get you out of a hospital bed or a coffin. It won't fix a damaged brain or make paralyzed limbs move again. You have far more control over your feet than a driver has over a heavy automobile. Use some common sense and get on the sidewalk where it's safe.
Joan E. Kraft,
NINDS


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