It’s Not a Suggestion–It’s a Law

Do you recognize this sign?

Pedestrian Crossing Advance

Do you know what this means?

PED XING

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.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “It’s Not a Suggestion–It’s a Law

  1. As someone once mentioned to me, is there “any way you can take a deep breath and let it go? There are lots bigger things in the world to worry about.”

    They went on to express that one particular topic was “the last thing in the world that’s going to keep me up at night.”

    You know, every blog is different and other people blogging about different topics with a unique fervor is what separates one blog from “anyblog.com,” otherwise, it would be one boring world.

    And by the way, I grew up on that campus, and even though your post of bad drivers and student pedestrians doesn’t affect me one way or the other these days, that doesn’t mean I can’t understand your sentiment of people not people paying attention to pedestrians – it’s widespread – heck, people don’t even pay attention to other drivers on the roadway anymore.

    But, it’s what makes your blog unique, and even though I might not place the same priority on such a topic, I would hardly characterize your concern for this matter as “mad all the time” or “just during daylight hours.”

    More on the true inner-workings of the campus, including the secret tunnels, later.

  2. I totally agree with your observation. Not only is the basic knowledge of official road signs woefully deficient, but common courtesy among people is absent when we’re behind the wheel. The Mercedes driver arriving at the light just a car length ahead of you is as direct and clear an indicator that can be imagined of how futile aggressive driving truly is. At one time I was almost as assertive when driving as this woman, but I’d like to think maturity has gone some way to making me better. Hopefully my self-image is accurate.

    (By the way, I found your blog via Rex Parker… just thought your title was interesting. Sorry to come so abruptly! But I liked your post, so I thought I’d share my feelings as well & commiserate along with you. Cheers.)

  3. Point well taken. I too am sensitive to pedestrian traffic as I live in a small suburban city with an historic and walkable downtown area. I see the same things you describe daily.

    However, I also don’t think that most folks realize that they must initiate the movement and show their intentions. In our travels to Europe I have noticed that drivers are much more aggressive, but do yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but only after the pedestrian moves directly into the street.

    As a pedestrian, this takes some getting used to, but in my experience European city drivers are very skilled and almost never hit the pedestrian. 🙂

  4. Julie Fisher

    Wow, who knew! I thought that sign meant “watch out for people with slumped backs who are walking inspite of it all”.

  5. Niece Lash

    Whew…I thought that man was a pedophile hence the name “ped xing.” Therefore I always tried to run them over. I’ll slow down from now on.

  6. Jan Maier

    I live in a part of Nashville not far from the University location you describe. In fact I worked for years across the street at an independent K-12 school . Some of our children took the city buses and had to navigate those intersections….a scary prospect.

    Now that I’m no longer working full time, I’ve begun walking to and from the Y, library and post office. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get across the relatively new, so-called “pedestrian friendly” intersections. I push the button and wait for my signal and then drivers who are impatiently waiting to turn…just ignore this friendly pedestrian……that would be me! I don’t think I’ll try the European approach though…I’m not movin’ into that intersection until the cars stop….maybe I could carry a flag and wave it ahead of me as I step off the curb? I’ve lived here more than half my life and have always wondered about this crosswalk problem and also why so few turn signals are used by drivers in this town.

  7. Bob

    So just how old is this “drinkin’ the franklin kool aid” person, who thinks there are “lots bigger things in the world to worry about” than trying not to run someone over in your car? Will he/she feel the same after getting hit at a crosswalk?

  8. Dear Bob,

    My post was an express message to the owner of the blog, who in fact, originally coined the very phrase in which you quoted me.

    It’s a long story that you might not understand, and it’s not directly applicable to the story at hand.

    At my “age,” as far as getting hit in a crosswalk, it ranks 5,001 on a list of 5,000 things to concern myself with in life.

    No. 5,000 is getting hit by an undiscovered comet on a Wednesday at 6:37 p.m. during a stampede down main Street just after Good Friday in a hailstorm on my birthday.

    Hope that spells it out for you.

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