Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stop the World! Someone’s crossing the street

There’s this thing Californians do – well at least Bay Area Californians – that absolutely drives me nuts.  They love their pedestrians and are all about letting them cross the street safely.  I’m all about pedestrians safely crossing streets, too.  But, I’m also about sense and logic and efficiency.  Californians are not about any of those things.

Pedestrian’s standing at corner of intersection, waiting to cross street.  All good.  See the little diagram below.  Person is waiting to cross from the north east corner to the north west corner.  North-south traffic has the right away.  East-west traffic has stop signs (yes, I know they don’t have enough sides. Paint doesn’t have an octagon tool.)  Although honestly, the scenario I’m about to show you would also happen if it were a four-way stop.

road scene 1 Traffic comes along on the roads.  Say someone comes along going west.  They stop at the stop sign and wait a bit because there’s a car coming north on the cross street.

road scene 2 Now, 1 time out of ten, that green, north-bound car is going to keep going, and after it passes, the pedestrian and the blue, west-bound car will cross the main street.  The other 9 times, here’s what’s going to happen.  That green car’s driver is going to see that there’s a pedestrian waiting to cross the street.  So the green car is going to stop for the pedestrian.  Is the green car going to pull up to the intersection and stop, which allows the pedestrian and the blue car to cross?  No.  The green car is going to do this.

road scene 3 The green car is going to pull into the intersection and then stop.  And sit in the middle of the intersection until the pedestrian has fully crossed the street.  Meanwhile, more cars come along….

road scene 4 And the streets are needlessly jammed because there’s a car just sitting in the middle of the intersection.

As a pedestrian, this drives me nuts because it often appears the car isn’t going to stop until it’s right in front of the cross walk.  If it had started slowing down sooner, I could have been half-way across the street before it got to the crosswalk.  Plus, now if I cross, I hold up the whole intersection.

As a driver, this drives me crazy because you’re zipping along at 30 and the car in front of you fairly suddenly stops in an unexpected place and you can’t see why because they’re so close to the crosswalk they’re blocking the pedestrian from view.  I’ve heard stories about people getting rear-ended in exactly this way, yet stopping in the middle of intersections is still very common.

I asked a local police officer about this once, at their annual fundraising dinner.  His response was along the lines of, “well if I saw a pretty girl waiting to cross the street, I’d try to get as close as I could to get a good view, too.”   Not only was it inappropriate, it was also entirely unhelpful.


Jeannie said...

Love your diagrams. Soon you won't have to put up with this - you'll be where cars never look out for pedestrians! lol

goldenrail said...

At least that'll be efficient. I'll be able to adjust my walking speed so I reach the corner just as they're passing and cross behind them. ;)

munchkinhead said...

it isnt fun. it drives me mad when people dont even slow down for pedestrians in crosswalks, and i especially dont like feeling the breeze the car makes as it passes so close behind me.