Sunday, July 11, 2010

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Idiot Pedestrian Rights Laws are Downright Dangerous

When I was eight years old, my mother would let me walk to town alone. I had to cross a very busy street with traffic that moved a pretty good clip. My mother, being the sort that believed in training her children, had spent many a good teaching moment on the side of the street, showing me when it was safe to cross and when it wasn't. And, she firmly told me, if you have to wait twenty minutes to cross, if you have to whip your head back and forth and back and forth until you get whiplash, you will do that until you see no car in either direction. I followed her instructions because she taught me my body was no match for a steel machine. If I didn't want to die, I would practice safe pedestrian crossing.

My son recently spent a year in India and it took a bit of time before he learned how to cross the road there. In India, you have to wait until there is time for you to cross into the space between "lanes" *(these don't really exist) and you have to do this incrementally until your reach the other side. It is quite a terrifying experience, but if you move and stop properly as you make your way across the street, you will survive. You learn to do this correctly because if you don't, you will be run over by a motorized rickshaw, car, motorbike, bus, truck, camel, or elephant. Check out this video to learn how to make it to the "other side" in India.

In NYC, jaywalking is routine, but jaywalkers know that they better move their asses post haste and they best make sure they don't get in the way of a taxi. They pay attention and walk quickly.

Pedestrians who understand that a modern road is for cars and that cars are bigger than them, survive. Traffic also moves along well because there isn't a pedestrian crossing every few yards and two-footed idiots strolling casually across the street.

But, now, I live in the State of Stupidity also known as Maryland where laws are being passed to "help" people cross the street. It seems to be some modern guilt trip that walking makes one better citizens and those bad people in cars better defer to them or else. Streets are for pedestrians, too, and they are going to have the government's assistance to help them across the street like little old ladies or blind people. Only this time, this kind of help is going to get them killed.

My neighborhood has turned into Frogger Alley. Crosswalks have been tossed into the middle of blocks (so the pedestrians don't have to take those extra steps to a corner) and cars are required by law to yield to anyone in the crosswalk. Sounds like a kindly thing until one realizes how incredibly dangerous this is. Because pedestrians believe they now have the right of way, they just walk straight out into the road, fully expecting traffic to stop. And traffic does stop, IF they see them.

I have almost run over a few people already since this moronic law was passed.

Scenario One: A truck is in the left hand lane with his turn signal on and blocking my view of the crosswalk in front of him. But, he is not turning left there; he is stopped for a pedestrian. Driving in the next lane, I am suddenly confronted with a pedestrian who steps out from behind the truck into the middle of my lane. I almost run him over. He screams at me, "Watch where you are driving!" Well, I was watching where I was driving. I was on a thirty-five mph road with nothing in front of me.

Scenario Two: One doesn't even know the crosswalk is there! One is tooling along at dusk and, suddenly, some college student bolts into the road in front of the car. Screech! That was a close one.

Scenario Three: A pedestrian dressed in black comes out of the bushes and walks straight for the other side of the road. If one runs him over, one gets nailed with manslaughter.

Scenario Four: With a clear road ahead, one is distracted for a moment, lost in thought or turning the radio dial. Bam! Pedestrian under car because the pedestrian no longer bothers to even look and see if the car is slowing and stopping because it is supposed to.

Hey, look, I am all for courtesy. But, today, a driver got angry at me because I didn't want to step into the crosswalk and walk across the street with traffic coming at me from both sides. I don't trust those drivers to see me and I don't expect them to. Finally, all the traffic did stop but everyone was mad at me because I held them up instead of just racing across the road.

Isn't it easier and safer to just wait until it is safe to cross the street and then do so? That's what my mother taught me.

For more on the subject, read this article on mid-block pedestrian crossings.

Build an underpass, build an overpass, build walking paths, or, if it is necessary, add a light or a stop sign with a proper crosswalk at the corner. But, for God's sake and the sake of all pedestrians and drivers, get rid of those stupid mid-block death traps.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


FRG said...

Mrs. Pat Brown,
I love your articles, I always read them but never commented.
Well, I was born and raised in Brazil so I know what you are talking about. In Brazil pedestrians don't have the right of way and you will be crossed over, my hubby when he went to brazil he had to learn how to cross the streets, it was funny though. I have been living in the US and the difference is huge, from what I have seen there are not a lot of pedestrians where I live in (FL) and I miss when I could walk to the bakery right on the corner which it has nothing to do with your article but to cross the streets in Brazil is not an issue but you really have to pay attention. LOL. I understand that it is really dangerous that the cars have to stop for pedestrians and maybe cause an ugly accident. There is a lot of guilty in people nowadays and we have to pay the price, I don't think it's fair after all we have to move on, the past should be left behind, I think. Do I make any sense? Hope so.

Anonymous said...

A pedestrian has no chance against a car no matter where they cross or when. I lost one of my favorite cousins this way.

TigressPen said...

What happens on that 35 mph street when a car who can't see the pedestrain walkway due to other vehicles blocking the wiew slams into the rear of a stopped car and that car is then pushed forward into the walker? I say keep cross walks at street corners where they belong.

Mid block crossings for pedestrain right-of-way is ridiculous!

Pat Brown said...

I added a link to a video on "How to cross the street in India"! Very funny~

This is one video and if you go to YouTube, you can get many versions of how to play "Indian Frogger."

FRG said...

Mrs. Pat Brown,
OMG, that was hilarious! I almost had a headache though.
Thanks for sharing.

Preraphazon said...

Couldn't agree more. All these stupid "protective" laws are lobbied for by parents who are too lazy to teach their kids not to do things. One that particularly incensed me was a rally to put up a wall blocking off a park's scenic overlook because the moronic parents had stood right there and let their toddler toddle over the edge and get a boo-boo rather than, god forbid, telling her not to do that or holding onto her hand.

I live near a park/lake that is popular with bicyclists and they get more and more rope about right of way with each year, and each year more of them are struck by motorists, but this only feeds their cause for more right of way. The really ridiculous thing about this is that there is a perfectly good paved bike path six feet away and out of the street that they could be on and not have to slow traffic down and get themselves killed, but because this bike path is also for pedestrians and nonracing bicyclists, they choose to ride in traffic. I think it's the spandex in those ridiculous bike pants cutting off the oxygen to their brains.

I grew up, like you, Pat in a time when children were trained rather than enabled. My street, just outside an air base, was devoid of traffic 20 hours of the day but like the racetrack of the Indianapolis 500 during the morning and afternoon rush hour when the base civilians went to and from work. I'm not exaggerating. This was in the sixties when all cars were muscle cars and everyone drove like a bat out of hell. I miss those days. So like you, I was taught when it was okay and that if I didn't wait, I'd die. To this day, I feel perfectly capable of crossing a street, though i tend to ignore the "walk" lights, which just don't always get the job done.

While we're on the subject, or near it. Another gripe of mine is people who take up a whole lane of traffic lolling with their stroller when there is a perfectly good sidewalk three feet away and then give you a dirty look when you pass them. WTF?

ariel rain said...

pat, i can totally relate to this article as a pedestrians point of view and drivers. first living in milwaukee wi for a number of year's i learned walking downtown was not an easy task. walk no run across the street. always getting beeped at. in green bay wi where i live now forget walking across with the walk signal. almost gotten run over plenty of times. now i cross in the middle it's a lot safer. i feel i'm in charge of my destiny. as a driver people don't look where their going either.

Anonymous said...

We have the same problem here, but with deer not people. They leap out of nowhere right in front of the car and sometimes end up in the back seat.

I enjoy your essays very much, Ms. Brown.