I have been a Juneauite for more than 30 years, so I well know the upwards spiral of rude, ignorant or just plain dangerous drivers we have here now, especially when it comes to pedestrians, of which I am one a lot of the time. I know that Juneau’s shifting population is a factor. I have many friends who have left the state and new people in are taking their places, since the population here has not grown that much. All I can think is that these new people either do not know how to drive in the snow or have a misbegotten notion that Alaska, even in the cities, is still the Last Frontier and that you can do whatever you darn well please.
Twice on Monday I was very close to being hit in the middle of the crosswalk, neither times my fault, as I always look and these people were speeding on snow in downtown. Tuesday I was on the sidewalk when a SUV turned into the REACH lower parking lot not a foot away from me. She didn’t even try to stop.
Last spring I was hit by a big pickup and was luckily not badly hurt, but as I lay on the ground and was stunned, I could not get the license plate number as she sped away. Hit and run, when I was passing on the sidewalk in front of Foodland. I called the police, but there are a lot of big, black pickups with rockguards in this town and she was never found. I hope she reads this letter and remembers.
Probably many drivers are going to blame me, but I have been walking around here a long time and have learned to keep myself safe by being careful. But I really believe that most of the drivers around here think that they have the right-of-way in crosswalks and sidewalks simply because they are surrounded by steel, when they surely don’t. Just think, if you hit a pedestrian on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk you are liable. A lot of people don’t drive cars for many reasons. I am talking about my own experiences downtown, but I know it’s just as bad in the valley, where people in vehicles don’t even respect the other people in vehicles, because I’ve been there, too. Juneau never used to be like this, where the biggest have all the rights, and it makes me said to think it’s becoming this way.
Space is the last frontier, so just go there if that’s what you want. Don’t run into any satellites.
Lauren M. Swift