“Look both ways before crossing the street.”
As someone who grew up with a love of Barney: The Dinosaur, this phrase was ingrained into my head from an early age. During preschool, kindergarten, and all of elementary school, we were taught to look both ways before crossing the street.
Growing up in a city where jaywalking is commonplace — if I’m being honest, I didn’t even know that jaywalking was a “crime” until I was in my early twenties and began traveling to other states — looking both ways when crossing the street is imperative for one’s survival. And, despite this, the local news app on my phone gives me notifications of “pedestrian struck” at least once per week.
Taking a quick look at your surroundings before entering a roadway does not take much effort. Even the laziest of the lazy can swivel their head once to the left and then once to the right to check for oncoming traffic. If — through injury or disability — you are unable to swivel your head, then you probably should not be trying to cross a roadway without another person to assist you safely in your journey.
If — through pure laziness — you refuse to swivel your head before crossing the road, then a shiny new Darwin Award looms in your horizon, young grasshopper.
“Most victims are ages 41-to-64,” reports Rolf Eisinger, the Pedestrian and Bike Coordinator for the City of Louisville. “And the most common way that pedestrians cause the crash? Darting into the road.”
Growing up, when I would hear of accidents involving pedestrians, I was sad and horrified. How could such mean drivers mow down innocent pedestrians without a care? Surely, these pedestrians checked both ways before crossing the road!
Oh, how wrong and naïve young AngieChu was…
Whereas many of these accidents are simply that — accidents — , a high number are caused by pedestrians who just don’t care.
On a near-daily basis, I encounter numerous pedestrians who nearly meet their maker while crossing the road. I’ve learned to train myself to watch for them. Maybe that should be added to the Driver’s Test curriculum in Louisville. If anyone approaches a crosswalk, a roadway, or the end of the sidewalk, I anticipate that they are about to try to turn themselves into roadkill.
Approximately eight out of ten times, my anticipations are correct.
Grown adults, whether in their early twenties, mid-fifties, or late seventies, are routinely crossing roads without checking for traffic. They don’t look in either direction. They just start walking. Middle-aged pedestrians seem to be the worst offenders, which goes right in hand with Eisinger’s report.
More maddening than having to skid to a stop to avoid running over someone is the fact that they then proceed to walk as slow as humanly possible across the road. Like, 0.5MPH slow. Sloth slow. In fact, I’m sure that sloths move faster than some of these pedestrians.
So, when all is said and done, let’s look at this scenario. Not only has this pedestrian in question nearly caused an accident and/or gotten themselves injured or killed, but they have then held up traffic in both directions as they cha-cha slide themselves across the road. This is not normal behaviour. These people would receive an F in Walking 101.
Let’s take a look at how things should be done 🙂
When my friends and I need to cross the road, the first thing we do is WAIT. After oncoming traffic stops and allows us to cross, we hold up our hands and do that weird wave-peace thing that means “thank you”, and we swiftly walk across the road. If it is a busy intersection, then we run across the road. Either way, we are out of traffic’s hair swiftly and safely.
Let’s look back at the people failing their Walking Skills courses. How on earth an able-bodied individual could be so naïve and inconsiderate to those forced to allow them allowing them to cross is beyond me. I have seen squirrels with better crossing-the-road skills than grown adults, and that’s saying something for someone who has exited her vehicle to shoo confused squirrels out of the road more times than I can count on both hands.
According to the Department Of Transportation’s 2016 survey, Louisville is currently ranked 19th out of the Top 20 cities with pedestrian deaths in the United States. Call me cynical, but I’m not surprised. A study done by local news station WAVE 3 in 2013 validates my rambles as well as the Department Of Transportation’s findings:
“After just 30 minutes [parked] on Broadway, we quickly found out why we’re in the national spotlight,” reported WAVE 3’s Connie Leonard. “With four lanes of traffic flying by us, the sheer number of people ignoring traffic safety laws was eye-opening. We spotted around 20 people walking in the middle of the busy street. We found few people using the crosswalks, and they were not obeying traffic signs.”
For best results when being the chicken that crossed the road, remember the following practices:
— Analyze whether you actually need to cross the road.
— Ask yourself if this location the safest place to cross the road.
— Check both ways before stepping onto the road.
— Hurry your way to the other side of the road.
— Wave courteously at the drivers that allowed you to cross the road.
— Go about your day without doing anything dumb and dying in the road.
Barney and his friends have not failed us completely. I have experienced numerous incidents where a parent is walking with one or two small children. The parent nearly steps out into oncoming traffic, but the kid(s) roots themselves into place and yanks their parent back onto the sidewalk, giving an apologetic gaze to me as I slam on my breaks.
You go, kids. Prevent those Darwin Awards.