Monday, September 21, 2009

What you do at a crosswalk in Portland

In Portland, there's a rule of the road that says if there is a pedestrian at a crosswalk, whether the crosswalk is painted or just implied by the pedestrian standing trying to cross a street, the cars must stop. I'm sure it's the same way in lots of places, but it's a hard and fast rule here. The problem is, only 1/10 of the people in the area know about it. This isn't surprising. Drivers everywhere in this world are a selfish bunch who don't pay attention to even a quarter of the things they should notice while driving. But the funny thing is that if you're standing at a crosswalk, and a line of cars is headed your way, the first few cars are guaranteed to not stop. They never seem to know they have to. No, the only car that stops, and this happens really regularly, is the very last car in a chain. Imagine how frustrating it is to be the pedestrian sitting waiting and realizing that no one is going to stop. And then seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the last car in a chain of idiotic brutes. Then, that car stops. Why? Why does the last car stop, when by all rights, he or she could just pass me faster than it takes for me to be sure that car is going to stop? By the time I've waited for every car in the chain, I'm focused on the rear of the last car, waiting for it to finally pass me so I can go, not on how fast that car is or isn't going. So this is what I have to say:

"Dear first car, Stop for me. Sincerely, Christina"
"Dear last car, Thanks for the thought, but please just keep going. Sincerely, Christina."

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is impossible for the first car to stop safely...If they were to stop "short" they could cause an accident that would injure many (including the pedestrian).

SO that is why my mama taught me to look both ways and wait for it to be safe to cross...even at a crosswalk. (Instead of feeling entitled to cross)

Christina said...

If a car is driving so fast that it can't stop, or a line of cars is going so fast and following so closely that following the law and stopping at a crosswalk would cause an accident, they are in the wrong. They need to slow down. But what you are describing is not the situation. We are talking about rich people moseying through the streets relatively slowly, with plenty of time to safely stop, gazing vacantly at nothing, while ignoring the important details that should cue a difference in their driving decisions.

Also, pedestrians are entitled to cross. Yes, they should not step in front of moving traffic, that would be acting on the feeling that they are entitled to cross. But the feeling is perfectly legitimate and backed by law. Pedestrians have the right of way, and in this area it means they have the priority use of the road over cars, who are legally required to yield and give them a chance to cross. This is on the driver's test that every driver must pass in order to get a license.

To Whom It May Concern said...

Driving home yesterday, I was making my last right hand turn onto my street when a man decided to walk himself and his shopping cart across the street at snails pace. The light was green so he held up traffic, pedestrians should use common sense as well as drivers being aware of their surroundings.

Christina said...

A crosswalk with a light is not the situation I described. While the law does not permit drivers to just hit the pedestrian crossing against the light, the pedestrian does not have the right of way to cross against the light.

Based on your description of a man pushing a cart across a street against the light at snail's pace, I have to guess that this was probably one of Portland's many homeless, mentally instable residents.

Just to reiterate, there are numerous marked and unmarked crosswalks in Portland. The law and common decency dictate that drivers slow to a stop to allow the pedestrian waiting at these crosswalks to cross the street.

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