Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yield

Pittsburgh is not very pedestrian friendly. This, despite the following law:

3542.  Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.
        (a)  General rule.--When traffic-control signals are not in
     place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield
     the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any
     marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an
     intersection.
 
I cannot tell you how many times I have been at a crosswalk and have been ignored by cars zipping by. At one intersection near a park, there is actually a flashing light trumpeting that it is a state law that cars must yield for pedestrians. Still some drivers completely ignore that, and my daughter and I have have found ourselves waiting for long periods of time as well as coming close to being hit because we were not running across the street (I did not realize that part of the law was pedestrians had to sprint so as not to further inconvenience the drivers).

Near my office building at a crosswalk, there is one of those (non-flashing) signs proclaiming the law. Yet I cannot tell you how many times cars just ignore me. And I am not like some people who wait patiently on the sidewalk. No, I actually walk into the street, so I can be clearly seen. However, I have started to rethink that kamikaze attitude.

Unfortunately, a few mornings ago, a woman was hit by the bus she recently exited. I was in another bus several blocks away at the time, but heard about it on the bus radio. As we came to the intersection where it happened, the bus driver told us that we might be waiting awhile, since there were several emergency vehicles in the middle of the street, blocking traffic as a result of this accident. As someone who is into walking, I immediately jumped out, ready to walk the seven or eight blocks to my office. But soon after I exited the bus and started walking on the sidewalk, I saw the some people crowded around the middle of the street. Part of me knew I should not look. But the other part of me knew I would. And what I saw was very unsettling. Some EMTs were getting ready to put the injured woman onto a board. Her legs seemed to be twisted in an odd way/different direction than I expected. I quickly looked away, so maybe, just maybe, I did not see what I thought I did. But I still cannot get that picture out of my mind, two days later.

Fortunately, I later read that she was treated for only minor injuries at the hospital. But it could have been so much worse. And that could have been me or any one of hundreds of people daily.

I am not ready to give up riding the bus, which is scary enough on a daily basis the way some drivers come to a screeching halt at most of the stops.

But I vow to pay more attention to my surroundings, to run less often in the hopes of making the flashing walk sign, and not to stand as far into the street as I have been, on the hopes that drivers are paying attention and/or actually care about the law.

And, most importantly, when I am driving, I will try to be extra aware of pedestrians.

How about you do the same?

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