Many questions, few solutions for traffic woes

The death of 22-year-old Southern Oregon University student Gladys Jimenez Wednesday has reopened old wounds and an old conversation for this community. She is not the first person to die on an Ashland street after being struck by a car and she may not be the last. Knowing that, what can we do &

as drivers, pedestrians, city officials, residents, SOU administrators and students &

to lessen the likelihood of a repeat of this tragedy?

There is no single place to lay the blame on this, just as there is no silver bullet solution.

The particulars of the case are, sadly, not unique. A person was hit by a car and died. Any one of us could have been that pedestrian. Any one of us could have been driving that car. Any one of us could have died Wednesday night in a hospital.

In the past, such incidents have triggered action on the part of the city, and no doubt this one will be no different. But no matter how well they respond, no matter what changes are instituted, we cannot make the world accident- or death-proof.

Nevertheless, the city will make changes to heighten safety on our streets. Officials at SOU will start a program to raise awareness of both drivers and pedestrians. The rest of the community will be more aware of the issue and all of us, both in and out of cars, will be a little more alert. For a while.

To their credit, school and city leaders are clearly taking this very seriously and have already taken action.

University officials on Friday installed neon-orange flags at boulevard crosswalks in front of the campus. Students can carry the flags as they cross the street to make themselves more visible. Ashland City Administrator Martha Bennett has pushed through overtime for more police stings to catch drivers who don't yield to pedestrians entering the crosswalks. Bennett and SOU President Mary Cullinan plan to work together on additional ways to mitigate the danger.

But they cannot be expected to bear the entire burden of making the streets safer for pedestrians and less nerve-racking for drivers. Most of us walk. Most of us drive. We share the streets, and we have to share the burden of responsibility. This is not an issue that necessarily requires advanced degrees, years of planning or buckets of money.

A good idea or two could make a difference.

Maybe you have one of those ideas &

and we'd be happy to share it with the community. We invite our readers to send us suggestions that we can pass on, via these pages, to community leaders. Try to spend 10 quiet minutes thinking about this in a new way. Get past the blame and the drivers-versus-walkers mentality and think.

Drop your ideas off at our office at 1661 Siskiyou Blvd., or mail them to Daily Tidings Opinion, P.O. Box 7, Ashland, OR 97520, or e-mail ideas to .

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