Do you recognize this sign?
Do you know what this means?
Do you know what you’re supposed to do when you see a pedestrian standing near one one these signs which is usually accompanied by yellow lines painted horozonitally across the road?
YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO STOP!
But around here, hardly anyone ever does. I work at a large university/medical center and between students, faculty, staff and patients there are thousands of people wandering around all day. They often have to cross the street and I have seen them wait patiently at a crosswalk before someone finally stops to let them across.
The other day I was stopped at a two-lane crosswalk. Car after car whizzed by while the poor student who wanted to cross just stood there. Finally someone else noticed him and stopped. As he walked by my car he blew me a kiss–a thank you and recognition that I had followed the rules.
Of course, there is a flip side to this and some responsibility does lie (lay? I always get that wrong) with the pedestrian. You have to make your intent clear. Sometimes it’s hard to know if the pedestrian does indeed intend to cross the street or is just loitering. As a driver, I usually give the pedestrian the benefit of the doubt, but my fellow vehiclular-operators aren’t usually so charitable. So if you want to cross, go ahead and stick a foot out there.
If you’ve ever driven in other parts of the country–or other parts of the world for that matter–you already know that crosswalks there are obeyed more than they are around here. My historic small town has several and I want to remind my fellow residents that running over tourists is not a good example of Southern hospitality. All those little brick strips around the square are crosswalks. Let the tourists get by without risking their necks. After all, they spend money and go home.
One time when I was driving around campus I stopped at a crosswalk to let some students by. A woman in a large black Mercedes SUV started blowing her horn at me. Then she actually sped around me and blew right through the crosswalk. No one was hurt, but it was close. At the next light, she was right in front of me. So her impatientience bought her exactly one car length.
I hope it was worth it.