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Crosswalk on upper State Street

Paul Wellman

Crosswalk on upper State Street


Danger Lurks on Upper State

Unfit for Pedestrians


Thursday, April 26, 2012

HIT-RUN: She lay there, crumpled in the middle of upper State Street, not moving. We watched, sickened, as paramedics gently edged her onto a stretcher.

The 41-year-old woman had more courage than I have, braving that wide, wild expanse of State, even in a crosswalk. I wouldn’t risk it. It’s dangerous enough crossing with the signal lights at Calle Laureles and Las Positas Road.

Upper State is a raceway, a no-man’s-land for pedestrians, Sue and I found after we moved to San Roque a few years ago. The car is king, and anyone on foot is seen as a member of a subhuman species. You’re in the way, so look out!

Barney Brantingham

The unidentified woman survived, apparently with a broken neck and leg, while police seek the hit-run driver of the suspect black pickup with black camper shell. (Call Officer Mark Hunt at 897-3719 with tips on the April 17 accident.) The partial license plate is 5A6518, but so far it hasn’t been traced. Police say they’re working on leads.

One car had stopped for the woman in the crosswalk, but the suspect driver didn’t check to see if anyone was walking, and he knocked her flying. Luckily, he wasn’t going at high speed, Hunt said.

Witnesses say the driver was unshaven, had dark hair, and was about 50 to 60 years old. After knocking the woman down near Calle Palo Colorado, he made a fast turn, sped through the Shell station, and fled through San Roque. He’s facing felony hit-run charges.

Then, just a few days ago, a woman driving a white SUV reportedly hit a pedestrian a few blocks away at State and Ontare Road and then took off. “We have about 400 [pedestrian] hit-runs a year,” Hunt said. “It’s a constant issue.”

When we’re not invisible, we’re just in their way. Here’s one incident: A friend noticed that while a man with a neck brace and cane was negotiating upper State, a guy was leaning on the horn, impatient to barrel through. Another: When the late photographer Bob Ponce crossed upper State in a motorized scooter due to his many medical problems, he encountered drivers honking and swearing at him.

“It’s unfortunate that drivers don’t pay more attention to their driving,” Hunt told me. “They’re driving [the equivalent of] a 3,000-pound bullet. There are so many distractions out there, and everyone’s in such a hurry.

“A pedestrian in a crosswalk has to keep looking, and be aware,” Hunt told me. “Crosswalks don’t have steel walls.”

Don’t blame police for all this mayhem. The culprit is the nut holding the wheel. On Tuesday, within a period of only about 10 minutes, Sue noticed a motorcycle cop pull over two drivers.

The city, as part of its ongoing study of certain problem crosswalks, plans to take a hard look at the twin crossings on State at Calle Palo Colorado and Ontare. No conclusions yet.

DISSING THEIR OWN: The Santa Barbara County Democratic Party gathered for a preelection pep rally Saturday night and heard the main speaker laud two Republican presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan; trash ex-president Bill Clinton; and offer faint praise for President Barack Obama.

Some Dems in the Montecito Country Club audience said they were shocked that while 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf was highly honored, no drums were beaten for 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, both facing reelection bids on the June ballot. No way was any slight intended, said Daraka Larimore-Hall, executive board chair. “We don’t play those games.” He chalked it off to “political gossip.”

The suspicion by some is that Carbajal and Farr were being punished for their vote last December to break a bargaining deadlock and impose a contract on SEIU Local 721. It included a 3.5-percent pay cut on union members. The two supervisors were in the 4-1 majority, while Wolf dissented with a pro-union vote.

Minutes after the Dems presented a Solidarity Award to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, journalist Robert Scheer gave a slasher speech that included kind words for anti-choice GOP ex-presidential candidate Ron Paul. “We were stunned,” one Dem told me.

Iconoclastic Scheer, an L.A. Times reporter and columnist for 30 years before being fired, also observed that “the Republicans have become a sick joke.” The GOP has moved so far to the right that “even Reagan would be considered left.”

Scheer’s new book was on sale: The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.

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