I have lived near Niagara Falls Blvd. all of my adult life.  I drive it every day.   Occasionally I walk or ride my bike down the Blvd.  It's a heavily-used highway adjacent to densely populated residential areas and the traffic on it from year to year continues to grow.  Tragically a number of pedestrians have lost their lives on the Blvd.

Recently a middle-aged woman was struck and killed while attempting to cross the Blvd. in an area that has seen six pedestrian fatalities in the past five years.  The latest victim was trying to cross the Blvd. late at night while wearing dark clothing outside of a crosswalk.

Dale Mussen photo
Dale Mussen photo

It matches a sad pattern of pedestrian fatalities in a 3-mile section of the Blvd. between the I-290 and Tonawanda Creek Road.  Four of them were at night.  The other two were early in the morning.  In each case the victim was crossing against a traffic light or outside of a crosswalk.  None of the drivers were charged.

Traffic fatalities are tragic, especially for the families and friends the victim leaves behind.  With each fatality we hear louder and louder calls for officials to do something....reduce the speed, add more traffic signals, add street lights.  Sure street lights would help visibility in a very dark stretch of highway, but what do you about people who don't help themselves?

The problem with the Blvd. is not the speed or traffic signals or crazy drivers.  The problem is pedestrians who don't observe basic traffic rules.  Cross in the crosswalk and wait until the traffic stops before you step out into the street.  If you're walking at night wear brightly colored clothing.

I was on the Blvd. recently coming up on an intersection and happened to see a man waiting to cross.  He had his head turned watching the traffic light the entire time.  As I approached the intersection the light turned red and he looked straight ahead and walked into the intersection.  Not once did he turn his head to make sure traffic was coming to a stop.  He must have been a man of faith....faith that every approaching vehicle was going to stop.  He had me shaking my head.

People have to take responsibility for their own safety and well-being.  It may sound harsh, but it's the truth.  Short of building pedestrian bridges at every intersection along the Blvd., all of these fatalities were avoidable.  The other tragedy in addition to the family and friends of the victims is the horrible guilt that all of these drivers have to deal with the rest of their lives and they didn't do anything wrong.

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