Have you ever had to walk across the street to the other side? What happened? How did it make you feel when you crossed the street? Was it easy to cross, or was it difficult? Did you have enough time to cross or were you hurried? Were you safe or did you have a close call?
Crossing the street should not imperil you each time you want to safely cross at a crosswalk. We have laws in place that are designed to protect people when they cross the street, so, the question I have is why do people driving cars act like pedestrians are invisible, people who just want to get across the street without fearing for their lives?
Tonight, I saw two boys playing on their scooters, and one dashed across the street without even looking. I was one hundred feet away from the crosswalk at San Antonio Avenue when I saw this happen. Thankfully no cars were coming. As I got to the crosswalk, he began to dash back again. I felt anxious for the young boy to be safe. I cautioned him and said he needed to look both ways before crossing, and that this street had vehicles all along each side that blocked one’s vision. I told him that I would wait where I was at until he safely got across, and he did. After he got across, I proceeded to finish crossing, and I overheard his friend say, “What did that man say?” The boy told his friend, “He said for me to look both ways before crossing.” I am just glad the boy got across safely.
Crosswalk safety is important. What if a car approached us as the boy was crossing? What if a north or southbound car decided to turn onto the street while the boy had dashed out? The what-ifs could go on.
I have had many close calls while I was walking. Sometimes I have had as many as three or four close calls in the several hours that I am out on my errand walking. I practice safety each and every time I go outside. I dress visibly so that people will see me. I try to keep reflective items on me in case I am out after dark, and I try to stay on lit paths. And, when I reach a crosswalk, I pause just before crossing after the light flashes informing me of my turn to go.
Sometimes, it does not matter if you wait before crossing or dress visibly or wear reflective garments or items, people are still going to act like you are not at the crosswalk. They will make a right turn without looking, narrowly miss hitting you in the middle of the crosswalk. This has been my experience. And, it causes me considerable trepidation and angst.
Actually, it causes me much anger, if only after the fact, a delayed response to the shock. Also, I know I am not the only one who feels distressed by having to cross the street at crosswalks, knowing full well that each time we cross someone could plow right into us. Recently, a lady friend of mine informed me that when she gets to a crosswalk, as soon as the light flashes for her to cross, she hurriedly runs to get to the other side quickly as possible. I don’t blame her.
My foot is a little jacked up, and I have to hobble across with my hiking stick, and then I see the scowls on impatient drivers in too big of a hurry to let me cross. I do my best, and I try not to make eye contact while crossing and just keep my head down. I think sometimes it is easier to pretend that those cars aren’t there, but it is more difficult at larger intersections, which is where most of my troubles occur.
Not too long ago, I was crossing a street near Upland High School. I was waiting to go to the west side of the street before crossing again to continue walking south. I looked to my left, and two local police cars were waiting at the red light. I was resting for a moment, waiting patiently for the signal to change, and signal to me to cross. I looked adjacently to the other side where I wanted to go, and there was a woman in a big truck waiting to turn left. I had a bad feeling about crossing the street, and I should have waited for her to turn, even though I had the right of way. The police cars were turning left to go south, while the big truck was turning left to go north. As the signal flashed for me to cross, I had not even reached the center line when the big truck now in the center of the intersection, roared out behind me.
At this point, the police cars saw what was going on, and did nothing, and all I could do was quickly try to escape the intersection and get to the sidewalk. By this time, both police cars had turned left, and the woman in the big truck was accelerating heavily, fast approaching the next main boulevard.
I was left feeling an injustice had just taken place and I could do nothing about it. I wanted to yell for all of the good that it would have done. Instead, it took me about a half hour or longer for me to calm down, and clear my mind.
I want to make it clear that I am not blaming law enforcement for the lack of safety at intersections. I know for a fact that, at least in my city, something is being done about crosswalk safety, at least in a small way.
I follow my local police department on social media, and recently, I did see a posting about an upcoming citation and crosswalk awareness campaign to bring awareness to the community about the state and local ordinances regarding crosswalks in California.
Violators were pulled over and cited for breaking the law, and endangering pedestrians. This is no different than when DUI checkpoints are set up with in the community. Of course, there are also those whose complaints were posted too. Nevertheless, I saw many people who share my view point also share their thoughts, and add their voices to my local police department’s social media post. I was thankful for those who decided to insert their voices in courageous assertiveness.
When a driver gets behind the wheel, I want to be hopeful that people are respectful when approaching a crosswalk when making that left or right turn. I want drivers to not be in such a hurry to turn or to even be looking at their cell phone when their eyes should be looking at what is in front of them. I want drivers to notice us, people, who have to walk at crosswalks, and not treat us as invisible, or fodder for their oversize, gas guzzling vehicles.
I want to have a little more peace when I cross at a crosswalk, and not feel like it will be my last night on earth because someone was not watching out for me. I already know that I have to be more vigilant than the drivers around me, and mindful that a two to three thousand pound vehicle is not worth fighting just to cross the street. I will wait, thank you.
And, I wish I did not have to wait, but circumstances do not always permit. I do not know if there are any positive solutions at this moment, and there is much apathy regarding crosswalk safety as there is regarding speed limits throughout town, but, I want to be optimistic that safety at crosswalks will improve in time. I only know that the first step to improving crosswalk safety begins with documenting incidents, maybe wearing a tactical body-cam or GoPro, bringing awareness, and informing the community.