Have I railed on about the Crosswalk Laws lately?

Well, I need to, because I hate them.

When I was growing up my mother taught me NOT to throw my body into oncoming traffic. And that seemed to make all the sense in the world. I lived on a very, very busy corner in the Bronx and, having witnessed the aftermath of those who did not listen to their parents about the dangers of car vs. human body, I learned to heed this warning at a very early age.

Beatles, Abbey Road Album cover. I did not take this photo. All rights & credit to whomever did.

Enter the 21st century, and we have these new laws that require a car to stop if someone has entered the crosswalk, an area of (usually) white lines painted across the pavement like a misplaced ladder. It’s a high concept, and I get the premise upon which it is based: there’s a lot of traffic and pedestrians, who are higher on the community food chain than those occupying their automobiles, should be able to do something as simple as get from one side of the road to the other.

The problem, as always with something that works in theory, is the human factor. Think Schrodinger’s cat. Pedestrians have always had the right of way, but the level of publicity the crosswalk laws have had has led to a new-found level of on-foot snobbery. And the “white line zone”, it seems, takes on the characteristics of a force-field protected area to many intrepid walkers.

It amazes me each time I watch someone launch themselves, blindly, into the path of my car, without even a glance at the possible vehicular threat. Sure, if you get hit, you’ll be right. You’ll be dead right. We can put that on your tombstone. Won’t your family members feel better knowing you had the right of way when you were flattened like a pancake.

I was traveling behind my husband one evening through town. I looked up and saw a young man coming along the sidewalk on his skateboard, toward the crosswalk. Surely he would stop and look up. But no, he just hooked a right and rolled right into the street, to the sounds of  my husband’s brakes being applied abruptly.

You know what? It IS a STREET. The crosswalk is just some painted lines. Cars drive there. Trucks even. What is the matter with people? For pity’s sake, use your heads. Or your eyes. Look up. Cars may be coming!

States have implemented these laws and not bothered to train folks on how to use a crosswalk. Obviously the powers that be thought we could manage on our own to figure this out. Nice thought. Here’s a flyer from Oregon, which initially says pedestrians have to bear some of the responsibility, but then only briefly refers to them in the final, short paragraph. Here, Provo police set up a sting to go after drivers that don’t stop soon enough before the crosswalk. No mention whatsoever about the responsibility of pedestrians. It’s ridiculous.

I can tell you for a fact that, here in New York, most people don’t even look up. And if an accident occurs, as did in town here a few weeks ago, one of the first questions asked is “was he in the crosswalk?”. Because if he was, blame goes immediately to the car driver.

It’s insanity. Deadly insanity. Please walk safely.


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