Thursday, March 11, 2010

To Get to the Other Side

Near our campus, there's a street that's (for here) fairly busy but that has cross-walks clearly marked. On one side of the street is a residential area with a lot of double-income family homes and some student housing (many students sharing an older home, often). A block away from the other side is the campus. So a fair number of people walk from the residential area to campus, students and faculty alike. (It's not the sort of area where staff can afford to live, so I'm not just forgetting that staff exist.) (There's one block with a light, and a lot of people choose to cross there using the light.)

This morning, I was driving towards campus (because I live 5 miles off in a neighborhood that faculty on a single income can afford) and two people reached the crosswalk at the street on the far side of a cross-street. So I stopped behind the crosswalk on my side and waited (so that I wouldn't block the box). And waited. The two people faced each other, standing at the crosswalk, and I guess chatted. They didn't look at the street, or at me, or up and down for cars. (Yes, if they get themselves into the crosswalk, they have right of way.)

So finally, after waiting about 45 seconds, and seeing that other cars were now coming up behind mine, I started forward. And then the two people looked up and seemt to want to cross, but I went by anyway, because I was pretty far along into the crosswalk.

This happens all the time. It's like people here don't know that if they want to cross the street they actually need to look at the traffic and look intentional about things.

In a real city, a pedestrian approaching a crosswalk looks at oncoming traffic, maybe makes sure they're seen by drivers, and then starts in.

Do they not teach basic crosswalk skills here? Do they not teach people that they actually need to be just a little alert and pay attention?


  1. i think pedestrian blinders are common in college towns. my local reference is berkeley, where [especially near campus] people are all the time wandering into the street, paying no attention to the cars. hate driving there.

  2. But that's because they're in the midst of IMPORTANT biochemistry experiments right then and there!


  3. my personal guess is that not a lot of biochem experiments are going on just at those moments. unless you count hormone-related discussions.

  4. I was amazed at the inability of people - walking or driving - to manage the crosswalks here. I didn't realize it was so complicated to walk across the street until I moved here!