Friday, January 7, 2011

I came close to hitting a pedestrian

Pittsburgh, or at least many of the suburbs, is not super pedestrian friendly. On several occasions, Jordan and I have attempted to cross the street near the section of Frick Park on Forbes and Braddock Avenues. In a crosswalk that is flanked by a sign that proclaims it is a state law to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Typically, about a half dozen or more cars would drive by before someone finally stopped or else there was a break in the traffic.


Sure, I would get frustrated, wondering if these people were illiterate, anti-pedestrian, or just not paying attention. But I also remember when I first moved to Pittsburgh, in the Avalon/Bellvue area, just north of the city. That was the first time I recall seeing those "yield for pedestrian/state law signs," and it took me probably several weeks, maybe longer, to get used to stopping for walkers. But once I did, I was always on the lookout for people crossing the street.

Fast-forward to this century. I live about five minutes from a plaza, and the gym I belonged to for many years is at the end of it, at the top of the hill. I tried to walk there once, since it was only about a mile away, but I was such a wreck afterward, trying to dodge traffic while attempting to cross the busy road to the plaza, that I never did it again. And there is a crosswalk and a walk sign where I was trying to cross, mind you.

Which brings me to my post title. Yesterday, Jordan and I were driving through said plaza, after we made a stop at the bank. Since I and a number of others walk through that plaza, I am typically super observant and vigilant when driving through the area; as I go from business to business or in and out of parking spaces, I look to my left and right several times each, just in case someone is walking. Unfortunately, however, I am rarely on the lookout for walkers when I exit and enter the plaza.

When we got near the top of a steep hill at a plaza exit, Jordan asked me why I don't "freak out" at/near the top of this hill. {There is another hill in a different part of town that is slightly steeper. Any time I am stuck near the hilltop during a red light, I worry about drifting back/not being able to gun it enough. And, no, I do not have a stick shift.} As I was quickly putting my foot on the gas since we were now at the top/the first in line to pull out, I told her it is a mental thing and this hill is not quite as steep. All of a sudden this guy is to my right, practically touching my car and screaming obscenities to me.

I did not see him.

I am unsure if I would have noticed him attempting to walk in front of me just before I pulled out. I was practically "gunning it" as I came to the top of the hill, but I was not quite ready to make that right turn onto the road. Thank God he did not walk in front of me. But to be fair to me, he was not crossing the street at a crosswalk (I still think he is "allowed" to cross there, however).

I would never walk out in traffic, in front of a car, even in a crosswalk with the PA state law sign without first making sure the cars had stopped; experience tells me it is just not smart. One would think this guy, having not been in a crosswalk, should employ the same strategy.

Maybe he should have tried to make eye contact with me or waited for a wave from me; I try do the latter whenever I let a pedestrian walk in front of me, so that person can be absolutely sure I saw him/her. I truly feel bad and certainly mostly responsible, but I think this foul-mouthed guy has to take some of the blame. I think back to this summer when a car in the mall lot almost hit me and Jordan as the driver was backing out. I was shocked, but understanding. I certainly did not curse or yell, as I believed it was an honest mistake, and the person who almost hit us looked really apologetic.

If nothing else, I hope this makes me (and you too, dear reader) more vigilant when driving. I will try to start looking at sidewalks, not just roads, when I pull out of places.

Be careful out there!

4 comments:

Mel said...

Glad it turned out okay, aside from your ear drum damage. Has happened to almost everyone, on both sides of the issue (as walker and as driver). I trust NO ONE whether walking or driving. The world is way too consumed with itself and its distractions to be fully aware of all that's happening around it. Seriously, though, we've all been there--and I appreciate the reminder. Hitting someone, or being hit, would most definitely be a terrible thing.

Kim Hosey said...

Wow; scary. I'm glad it turned out OK, for everyone's sake. Pedestrians just walk out into the road around here; I'm pretty vigilant/paranoid.

Facie said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies.

Mel, it is wise to trust neither walker nor driver.

Kim, I would guess pedestrians are like that in a lot of places. I see it in downtown Pittsburgh, where there are a lot of walkers, some of whom have never met a "Do not walk" sign/light they paid any attention to.

Sherri said...

Yes - happy everything was Ok, but... yes - pedestrians DO need to be mindful of where they are walking. SO many times I have seen people step off the curb, nonchalantly glance at oncoming, fast traffic and keep walking. Seriously. Anyway.... it happens - especially in these odd intersections at shopping malls, etc.