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Comfortable Drivers and Talking Crosswalks

7:46 AM PST on February 1, 2010

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we've got a post from M-Bike.org, who weighs in on a new crosswalk treatment in a Michigan town:

home_pic2.jpgCan this crosswalk penetrate a driver's consciousness? (Photo: R.D. Jones)

Some fancy solar-powered crosswalk signs

(the “Enhancer”), with lights, flashing beacons, and a pleasant spoken
instructions have recently been installed in Lyon Township where the
Huron Valley Trail crosses both a newly constructed road as well as
Grand River.

They’re expensive, obnoxious, and as far as we can tell, somewhat ineffective.

As
for the obnoxiousness, here are the instructions. "Hello. You’ve
activated the crosswalk signal. Wait for traffic to stop before you
cross. To show traffic you want to cross, place one foot near the curb
line. And remember to thank the driver as you are crossing the roadway."

Why are pedestrians and cyclists instructed to thank
motorists just for following state and local crosswalk laws? Shouldn't
that be a basic expectation?…

[W]hile testing them on Grand River, a van never slowed
when the sign was activated and we were trying to cross. It appeared
they were texting.

Maybe we should thank those drivers that aren’t driving while distracted, too.

Now,
there's certainly nothing the matter with a little wave of
acknowledgment when a driver stops to let you cross. In more suburban
or rural areas, where there are few people around, it seems like a
natural gesture. But the inclusion of this reminder in the crosswalk's
spoken instructions certainly does sound obnoxious, and reveals a
familiar autocentric mindset.

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