It’s a crosswalk, people — not an invincibility shield

A crosswalk isn’t an impenetrable fortress of security or an amulet offering supernatural powers. It’s white lines painted on black asphalt, for crying out loud. Yet many pedestrians think having the right of way makes them impervious to danger.

A crosswalk isn’t an impenetrable fortress or an amulet offering supernatural powers. It’s white lines painted on black asphalt. Yet many pedestrians think having the right of way makes them impervious to danger.

I’m noticing a disturbing trend lately. When pedestrians cross the street, they no longer check for oncoming traffic. They just jump in front of cars and expect them to stop.

I’m not sure when this became a thing. Was there a formal announcement abolishing the Look-Both-Ways-Before-You-Cross policy? Because nobody told me, and I’ve been practicing it since preschool. My local Gannett newspaper put up a paywall, so admittedly, I’m out of touch with current events.

I know the pedestrian always has the right-of-way, whatever the circumstance. I understand and accept that. You could be doing qualifying laps around Daytona, and if someone wanted to cross the track to get a beer, you’d be obligated to come to a screeching halt so they could haul their fat ass to the concession stand.

And I know the motorist is always the bad guy in every situation, even if a pedestrian steps in front of him without looking. We’re inclined to forgive pedestrians, because they don’t burn fossils fuels and destroy the planet. (Although some do emit a noxious, ozone-destroying gas, which carries the distinctive odor of semi-digested sprouts. But that’s only if the organic tofu isn’t sitting well.)

The laws are strictly on the the side of the pedestrian. The motorist has no hope. If a pedestrian dips a toe into the gutter and the motorist doesn’t come to a complete stop, the motorist is required by law to submit to a tar-and-feathering by an angry lynch mob. (And that’s only if he’s lucky. If the lynch mob is especially vindictive, they may go so far as to key his car and tear off his “I Like Ike” bumper sticker.)

I always thought pedestrians shared some degree of responsibility when crossing the street. However, modern-day hipsters are bucking this unfashionable trend.

As well they should. Why look both ways when the vast majority of us suffer from neck-and-shoulder stiffness? It’s the fault of our evil corporate overloads who keep us enslaved in nine-to-five servitude, our fingers gnarled from carpal tunnel and our spirits drained of hope and ambition. How dare the world expect us to turn our heads right and left to ensure the coast is clear? What do they think we are? Barbarians? We’re supposed to be living in an evolved society, here (as evidenced by the advent of selfie-sticks).

Pedestrians nowadays march into traffic with their chins held high, oblivious to the screaming brakes of oncoming cars and the blinding gleam caused by their albino-white legs. (Yes, it’s true: all pedestrians wear shorts and boast white legs. Again, I think it’s a law. They’re also required to wear sandals with socks. Bonus points if the socks are black.)

Pedestrians no longer shoulder the burden of ensuring their own safety. Which is only fair, because they have other rules to follow.

For example, they’re obligated by law to walk as slowly as possible when crossing the street, so that traffic remains at a standstill.

This is a fact, as evidenced through everyday experience. The more cars that are waiting, the slower the pedestrian must walk. A brisk and energetic pace is forbidden. When crossing the street, pedestrians must drag their heels and shuffle with a slump-shouldered gait, to prolong the agony inflicted upon the evil-minded motorists.

Pedestrians know they’re the rulers of the road, and they lord their superiority with a stiff-lipped condescension.

I interviewed one older lady who had just plodded in front of an oncoming truck. It swerved to avoid her, jackknifing and rolling over 15 times, then erupting in flames. (Thankfully, the John Deere tire flaps escaped unscathed.)

“Why did you do that?” I asked. “There was no one behind the guy. If you had waited for the truck to pass, the road would have been clear.”

“I had the right of way!” she barked, spewing her sprout-and-tofu breath in my face. “Cars have to stop for you when you’re in the crosswalk.”

Though technically true, having the right of way is little consolation when you’ve been reduced to a spot on the road. No one’s going to say “Amen, sister!” and high-five you for exercising your Pedestrians’ Bill of Rights — especially as you’re being scraped off the asphalt and loaded into a hearse.

Call me crazy, but I’d much rather be cautious than dead. (Although I must confess: Life holds little meaning since Saved By the Bell went off the air.)

Bottom line: Just be careful when you’re crossing the street. Abide by the old adage and look both ways. Exercise your rights, but keep in mind that a two-ton chunk of steel barreling down the road at 55 mph isn’t the most principled opponent. Yes, the driver might be obligated to stop. But that doesn’t always mean he can — or will.

And for goodness sake, put a pair of pants on. Your white legs are blinding all the drivers on the road. Sheesh.

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32 thoughts on “It’s a crosswalk, people — not an invincibility shield

  1. Yang Ho

    Sounds like organic tofu is turning into gas for you. On universities, students walk everywhere looking only at their phones, and I am no exception. The crosswalk and the right-of-way makes us lax.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      I can understand looking at a phone in a university setting. I used to check mine all the time for party invites. (Not that I ever got one. Probably all that organic tofu.)

      There’s so much foot traffic on campuses that students have a general expectation of safety. In fact, in my day, the worst offender was the maniac who drove the ride-on mower. He’d blast by people with the machine’s blades whirling, weaving among pedestrians. His driving was scarier than the cafeteria food.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I think there’s a rule that says the younger and more fit you are, the slower you have to walk.

      It’s interesting how the healthiest-looking people are the ones who drag their feet like drugged turtles.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Moose and Michelle

    I’m flustered by this, too! I agree with everything you wrote here. As a pedestrian, I know I have the right of way, but I also know that not everyone’s paying perfect attention behind the wheel. Even when I see a car signalling that they’re going to turn down a street before they even get to me, I still wait to see if they actually turn or if they just forgot to turn their blinker off. Why the hell would I put my life in the hands of people driving upwards of 2000 lb of metal?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      That’s exactly it — so many people confuse having the right-of-way with being invincible. When I’m the pedestrian, I’m not so trusting. Eye contact and a courtesy wave go a long way to ensuring drivers actually stop.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Musings from a Tangled Mind

    I agree with you wholeheartedly! Except it’s not just modern-day hipsters…it’s people of all makes and models. You’re absolutely right, pedestrians should take responsibility for their own safety given they would never win a battle of chicken with a car (maybe the car owner in court, but still…). It’s complete stupidity to think that somehow the phrase “the pedestrian has the right of way” will somehow magically save you from being squashed by a car and yet people think this very thing! Not only that, but these oh so careless people also don’t consider that their actions might just set off a chain of events that cause a more devastating accident. It’s frustrating to no end. Drivers should be alert and vigilant and responsible on the road, yes, but so should pedestrians!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      That’s exactly how I feel. If we’re going to endow pedestrians with limitless, unbridled privileges, then they need to share some responsibility for their actions. And that includes making eye contact with oncoming traffic, so people know they’re aware.

      Driving through a parking lot yesterday, six people emerged from different stores and crossed in front of me without looking. Only one was staring at a phone; the others were just looking at the ground.

      What if Sandra Bullock was barreling through the parking lot on a bus, and she couldn’t go below 50 mph? What would those ignorant, unsuspecting pedestrians do then? (I admit, it’s not a likely scenario, but worse things have happened — like Speed 2: Cruise Control.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In My Cluttered Attic

    I know what you mean, Allen. After the demise of Saved By The Bell—nothing seems to matter anymore anymore. I’m going out right now and hurl myself off a curb, but with my luck I’ll probably survive. Damn, I’ve become just another oblivious pedestrian!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      You and me both, Paul. Now that “Saved By The Bell” is off the air, I’m going to march into a crosswalk without looking and simply assume oncoming drivers will stop.

      I mean, sure, they had the made-for-TV movie where Zack and Kelly got married, as well as “Saved By The Bell: The New Class,” but it’s not enough to bring meaning to this sad and miserable existence.

      At least we’ve got reruns.

      Like

      1. Allen Post author

        Well, if I remember correctly, there was only one season of “The College Years” … so after a nostalgic marathon viewing, I’ll probably be standing out there with you. 😀

        Like

    1. Allen Post author

      Shopping centers are the worst. I think people feel even more insulated in parking lots than they do in crosswalks. I’ve had so many shoppers barge out of a store and stumble in front of my car that I drive at a crawl with my foot hovering over the brake, my eyes scanning back and forth like a Terminator.

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      1. Allen Post author

        I’m convinced that I could be idling in the middle of the Black Rock Desert, with nothing but sand and the shimmering horizon surrounding me, and as soon as I touched the gas, an ignorant pedestrian would step in front of my car.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      Ha — exactly! There are many noble causes worth dying for (including our God-given right to eat bacon with every meal), but I wish people would note, crosswalk right-of-way is not one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. spartacus2030

    (Thankfully, the John Deere tire flaps escaped unscathed.) This part really bust me up! This is the first time I’ve found crosing the road so vastly entertaining! I notice we have similar writing styles… Are you me? This could be The Twilight Zone, and I don’t even know! My comedic flip flops and fright wig are off to you :O)

    In the tiny town where I live, the main drag has stop lights that the pedestrian controls. So I like waiting ’till a car is about 20 feet from the light, and then I push the button! Hehehe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      Hey, thanks for stopping by — and also for the comedic flip flops. I was needing a pair!

      We could definitely be in the Twilight Zone. I’ll keep listening for that distinctive theme song; that’ll be the telltale clue.

      Like

  6. Gail Kaufman

    Great post, but I’ll play devil’s advocate. I once stepped off the curb, ready to walk or wait depending on the decision made by the driver of an oncoming car. The driver was going too fast but decided to stop. The car behind the speeder must have been speeding as well because a fender bender resulted. A bystander proceeded to blame me for the accident, but I didn’t force the driver to stop, or to speed for that matter. So there’s two sides to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allen Post author

      Gail, it sounds to me like you did everything right. You stepped off the curb and gave eye contact, indicating your intent to cross. The oncoming driver saw you and stopped, as he should have (although he was driving too fast).

      Clearly, it was the person who rear-ended the first driver who was in the wrong, not you. He or she should have been keeping an eye on the car ahead.

      The brake lights should have been a clear indication for the second car to slow down, but some drivers can’t seem to comprehend these obvious clues. 🙂

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