Fresno police chief discusses pedestrian safety

With the large number of pedestrian fatalities this year, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer is urging pedestrian, motorists and bicyclists to be extra cautious maneuvering through Fresno’s streets. Dyer said that 13 pedestrians and two bicyclists have been killed this year after being struck by vehicles. Another pedestrian was killed Friday

“As the city grieves the loss of Melissa Dowd, an aspiring physician with a desire and calling to help others, I can’t help but think about all of the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one killed in a traffic collision and will struggle through this holiday season without them,” Dyer wrote in a commentary in today’s Fresno Bee.

“Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians share our roads, sidewalks, parking lots, driveways and pathways. Technology, engineering, education and effective enforcement tactics has made driving a vehicle safer than ever. However, we have seen a disturbing trend in our city with pedestrian fatalities.”

Dyer said that the vast majority of pedestrian deaths in Fresno were caused by the pedestrians, who did not cross streets safely. He also said that the most dangerous time for pedestrians is between 6 p.m. and midnight. The chief offered these safety tips:

– Don’t assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with the driver and be sure of their intent or action.

– Obey traffic signals at all times even when vehicular traffic is light.

– Do not rely solely on pedestrian signals; look before you enter the road.

– When crossing the street always use marked crosswalks.

– Wear bright clothing at night. Be seen.

– Watch for right-turning vehicles. The driver may be looking in the other direction.

Another pedestrian death on Fresno’s streets

The latest pedestrian fatality should make us all a lot more cautious maneuvering on Fresno’s streets. Drivers drive carelessly and pedestrians often make foolish jaywalking mistakes. Details surrounding the death of 30-year-old Melissa Dowd are still coming out. What we know so far is that Dowd was struck about 11 p.m. Friday while crossing at the intersection of Shepherd and Cedar avenues. Police say she was walking with a man south across Shepherd Avenue when she was struck and killed by the eastbound vehicle.

The driver is cooperating with police. Dowd was a medical resident in the University of California at San Francisco-Fresno Medical Education program. The Bee’s report today says she was an accomplished musician and humanitarian from Blacksburg, Va.

We have a major traffic problem on Fresno’s streets, and it puts all of us in jeopardy. I see it first hand daily. I live near Fresno State and drivers need to be extra cautious as thousands of students walk across Shaw and Cedar avenues — some in the crosswalks and some jaywalking. And the drivers are also distracted, with many on cell phones. I also ride my bike near campus and recently was forced into a curb by a driver who apparently didn’t see me.

We all need to be more cautious, whether a driver, cyclist or pedestrian. You may legally have the right of way, but that won’t make much difference if you’re the one who is struck.

On Friday night, we lost a vibrant young woman who would have contributed greatly to society as a physician. Dr. Tim Comes, director of the UCSF-Fresno medical program, interviewed Dowd last year for one of 10 residency positions. ”She just stood out as an extraordinary human being,” Comes told The Bee.

Here’s more from the story:

“Dowd graduated summa cum laude in 2005 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where she studied biology and psychology. While at Virginia Tech, Dowd was also a member of the marching band and played several instruments, including the oboe, flute and euphonium, Comes said.

“She later attended medical school at Boston University and was a health fellow at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

“Dowd also had a heart for public service, which led her to work with HIV-positive orphans in Kenya and Tanzania, Comes said.

“When it came time to start a four-year residency program, Dowd picked Fresno. She started in June as an emergency resident at Community Regional Medical Center.

” ‘When she came here, she frankly fell in love with the people she met in the community and the program,’ Comes said.