It was 1929 when pedestrians in Connecticut gained the right of way in crosswalks ( a marked path where people can safely walk across a street or road, according to Merriam-Webster). Great idea that we can only hope will really catch on someday.
I can’t make light of this. Far too many accidents in Danbury have involved crosswalks. From imperfect scientific observation, the pedestrian waiting to cross has about a 50/50 chance that vehicles both ways will stop as soon as he or she first enters the legal passage to the other side. People can be seen standing for quite a while before one car initiates the stop. Then little by little, others come to a sheepish halt. Others still go barreling along. It’s discomforting to think that a driver can be this out-of-tune with the traffic scene. Crosswalks only work when everybody pays attention. That’s what we sign up for when we get a driver’s license.
I depended on logic but was honestly unsure about the law regarding an intersection with a crossing light AND a crosswalk. So I looked it up. In an ever-increasingly illogical world, I thought I should check to see if I need to stay put in front a green light when someone is crossing in front of me.
Turns out that an open red hand or little red person-outline facing a pedestrian on a traffic signal in Connecticut means, you shouldn’t cross. The lighted green or red symbol supersedes any crosswalk. With left-turn-only arrows for cars on many downtown streets, and right-on-red allowances, we should all be on our toes. But it’s important that a pedestrian stay put until the walk light says so. And we will trust that it’s all in synchronization. It used to simply say WALK or DON’T WALK, it was very clear that when DON”T WALK started flashing, you needed to get your butt out of the way, and you didn’t need a 10, 9, 8…countdown either.
Even conscientious drivers are guilty of failing to stop for a pedestrian in a traffic light-free crosswalk, me included. And when I do I feel terrible and imagine the “what ifs.” In all fairness, the person waiting to cross isn’t always visible, due to parked utility trucks, trees, or maybe the fact that they are standing right behind a telephone pole.
Walkers need to be conscientious too. I’ve played Russian roulette with the street enough times while walking around town that I’ve built a strategy. I wait until traffic really thins out before I poke my pedestrian self out there. I also back way off when there are one or more tractor trailers moving along, knowing that a truck that size needs a longer braking time. Whether the law is on the side of the pedestrian or not, why invite trouble? It’s always a good idea to put down the cell phone, or pull out the ear buds. All of our senses should be working full throttle when we’re attempting to cross a busy street. My father liked to use one of his old army expressions when we needed to step lively and raise our awareness. He’d say “Look alive!”
What’s wrong with this picture? And the next one?
Busted. And busted.
This wasn’t a good day for this driver in the next photo.
(Photos by Michael Duffy)
There is a thing called jaywalking that you don’t hear about much anymore, and the law is not on the side of the pedestrian who is crossing the street in an unmarked spot. Please, walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, use caution too. I’m not going to stop for you if you aren’t in a crosswalk. That would make me an enabler to a problem that needs correcting. You only get the right-of-way at those lateral white bands going from one side of the street to the other. If you won’t take the extra steps this way or that way (where there’s a crosswalk) and play by the rules, that’s not cool. Plus, it confuses all the motorists when one car has to hesitate. And who needs extra confusion?
if you really don’t know your rights and those of drivers, promise me that the next time you almost get clipped or flipped off even, why don’t you try to find out how better you can protect yourself?
Here’s a list of tips. http://uncw.edu/ehs/documents/CrosswalkSafety.pdf
Let’s look out for one another.
Thanks for tuning in…
“I hole up now and then and do nothing for days but read.” — Actress Gene Tierney