Sunday, January 31, 2010

Safe Crossing

Do you ever watch the people crossing Xenia Avenue? It’s like a miniature ballet; dodging cars and trucks, waving to friends, jumping over puddles and avoiding the icy spots while trying to find the shortest route to their next stop without spilling a hot coffee or dropping a bag of groceries. I think it would make a good vignette for one of our film artists.

It’s fairly easy to tell the locals from the visitors. Locals cross the street like they own it (maybe we do) – daring the traffic not to stop, sauntering, never in a hurry and ready with a practiced scowl for drivers who look the least bit agitated by having to stop for a pedestrian. Visitors on the other hand are overly cautious; they carefully survey the traffic flow, looking both ways several times, judge the speed and finally, in a rush, dart across the street.

The most entertaining crossings are in front of the Little Art Theatre. It’s clearly marked, “State Law - stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk”. Once again, the locals have this down to perfection. Never check for traffic, just confidently step off the curb assuming that whatever is coming will stop. And the enjoyment people seem to get from bringing a big semi truck to a complete standstill. I see people, obviously in a hurry, get to the crosswalk and then slow down just to savor the moment of being in charge for few seconds.

I’ve lived in town for a few years but I’m still a novice at the crosswalk. I just don’t have the nerve to walk out in front of a truck knowing that I’m right no matter what happens. I’ve practiced sauntering across Short Street hoping to build my confidence before facing the trucks on Xenia Ave. It’s not working. I’m getting worse instead of better and now, with the recent recall, I’m afraid to cross in front of Toyotas. I’ll never be considered a true “local” if I don’t get over this fear of challenging the traffic flow.

Perhaps to make it a little easier on us chickens (sorry Pee Wee), let’s start the pedestrian crosswalk in front of the drug store and end it front of Bonadies. Give pedestrians the right away from one end of town to the other instead of just in front of the Little Art. Is that too much – how about a crossing in front of the Emporium? Wonder what it would take to make that happen?

A. Reader


jafabrit said...

My daughter was screamed at from a driver when she crossed the crosswalk and he had to, dare I say it, "stop" for her. "I LIVE here" he shouted.

I thought that the oddest thing to say, well no, the oddest was when a local shouted at me to send the photos back I was taking of the Train Station. When I asked why he proceeded to tell me that locals like their images.
I said really, and then spent 20 mins trying to convince him to share an image for the Chamberpot Gallery. I think he was sorry he said anything LOL!
Such is life in this here village :)

Les Groby said...

Stepping out in front of a semi truck in the hope it will be able to stop in time is not just dangerous, but obnoxious. It takes time and effort to bring a very large vehicle to a halt, and the drivers can't change the laws of physics for us just because we've put up a "stop for pedestrians" sign. Please be considerate and allow them to pass before stepping into the crosswalk. If being polite is beyond your talents, think of it this way: getting a big truck moving from an unnecessary stop wastes diesel fuel. If you don't let them pass, you're contributing to air pollution and oil depletion.

Virgil Hervey said...

But wait a minute... Aren't you a local?

jafabrit said...

He presumed I was a tourist.

danc said...

The crosswalks in front of the Little Art are marked for vehicle operators (motorists, cyclists), pedestrians and requires equal responsibility by both parties.

Pedestrians (young and old) need to be a more conscious of the their responsibility. I’m amazed how pedestrians do not look for motorists, make sure the motorist understand the pedestrian's intention to cross and have time to yield before stepping into the path of the vehicle.

Florida has the high pedestrian accident rate in the nation and produced an excellent Crosswalk Safety brochure.

The brochure's directions apply at intersections with or without traffic controls devises (signals, signs or crosswalk marking).

FYI: PEDESTRIAN LAWS from the Ohio Revised Code

Kay Reimers said...

I've had drivers stop for me at the crosswalk when I've been reading a movie poster at the Little Art. I've learned to read the posters with my back completely turned away from the crosswalk so I don't confuse the poor driver into thinking I'm going to make a sudden long leap into the street. I can't complain about drivers in this town they are in general pretty considerate.

jafabrit said...

The sad thing is my daughter was at a crosswalk and she didn't just step out blindly.

Lesson is never assume drivers will stop, or that they will politely cede to pedestrians who do follow the rules. As Kay says, generally drivers around here are considerate, but everyone once in a while you get that odd one.

Anonymous said...

Being in the unique position of observing and using the crosswalk for several decades, I've seen it all.
Some cars actually honk and accelerate. One driver that was stopped and on a cell phone resumed driving while I was crossing in front of his car.
Yes, large trucks take some time to stop and it would be wise to let them pass.
It's the folks that dart out in front of Tom's or try to cross behind my car when I'm parking on Xenia that worry me - they seem unaware of blind spots.
Some drivers don't expect a stop on a state route and many come in from the N. going too fast.
What I find most worrisome with pedestrians around town are the folks in dark clothes walking or riding unlit bikes at night oblivious that drivers can't see them.
And yes - riding bicycles in the lane may be sanctioned, but I've had too many vehicles try to run my bike off the road to assume I can own the lane.
By the way, can we call out of town visitors VISITORS instead of tourists? We aren't tourists when we shop or pass through Fairborn or Waynesville - people tend to be nicer to visitors than to something they think of as a pest.

jafabrit said...

Why is tourist negative? Not that I have used it, but if people tend towards viewing tourists as pests, why would they think differently if they are called visitors instead. some people just don't like em' whatever they are called.

Also I don't believe Fairborn is a tourist destination per se ahem! but Yellow Springs has been listed as one.

Just pondering

Vanessa said...

I too have thought a crosswalk between the Emporium and Tom's would be just lovely, even if it meant having to take out one of the Short Street ones.

But this idea--"let’s start the pedestrian crosswalk in front of the drug store and end it front of Bonadies. Give pedestrians the right away from one end of town to the other instead of just in front of the Little Art"--this is just genius, revolutionary! I challenge us Yellow Springers to act as progressive as we talk and revitalize our downtown area into one that does not give priority to cars and trucks over everything and everyone else. Let everything have equal priority.

I would even love to see more open public spaces--commons--downtown that are not strictly under the command of whatever store it happens to be near. Let commons have equal priority to commerce. But that's a quest for another day.