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Pedestrians Caught in the Crosswalk

6:52 AM PDT on June 14, 2010

4657946563_ba164d6aa5.jpgFinding a safe place to cross can be hazardous to your health. (Photo: jr⁹⁸⁶⁶⁴ via Flickr)

Today on the Streetsblog Network, reports of obstacles for pedestrians from two states.

First, from Massachusetts, some observations about crosswalk design.
In theory, a crosswalk with a signal and a button for a pedestrian to
activate the signal should be a welcoming sight for someone traveling
on foot. But as TransitBoston
points out in a post this morning, the presence of that button is often
window-dressing for an intersection that functions poorly for anyone
not traveling by car:

At least one intersection in Newton requires three entirelight cycles to cross from corner to corner. Here is a dramatization ofthe process: Press a button. Wait a minute. Cross. Stop. Press anotherbutton. Wait a minute. Cross. Stop. Press a third button. Wait aminute. Cross …. Whew, that was exhausting. And it was only 150 feet ofwalking. That is a walk signal functioning (by some meaning of theword) as designed, and it is not really much of an outlier as crosswalksignals go. Many other crosswalks require at least two cycles to gofrom corner to corner.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, WalkBikeJersey Blog
reports that a businessman in a Jersey Shore community is calling for
the repeal of a new law that requires cars to stop for pedestrians in
crosswalks. His argument might strike you as strange — he says that the
law is "dangerous." But what, exactly, is the danger he’s so concerned
about? WalkBikeJersey writes:

In New Jersey, where turning right on red is a birthright, the "Stopfor Pedestrians in the Crosswalk" appears to have puzzled a generationof suburban drivers trained to own the road…. Inevitably lack ofunderstanding generates backlash. The Atlantic City Press reportsthat Long Beach Township businessman Dick Jeffries has started apetition to repeal the stop for pedestrians law with the endorsement ofMayor Joseph Mancini.…

Jeffries’ quotes in the article totally reflect his windshield view of traffic safety:

"People don’t know what to do because the law is so unclear.Everyone is so frightened by this thing with these big signs they putup. I mean, what is it? A $200 fine and two points on your license?"

Ah, yes. That is terrifying — the thought that if you don’t stop
your two-ton vehicle to let another human being cross the street, you
might risk not only a fine, but two points on your license as well.

More from around the network: City Block on the true cost of gasoline. Livin in the Bike Lane on a Florida law that would require cyclists to ride in bike lanes or to the right of a car traffic lane. And Cap’n Transit on glamour and honesty in bus service.

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