When I think of the crosswalks and pedestrian safety issues featured in this issue’s cover story, I can’t help but return to my youth.
As a 5-year-old, my mom arranged for me to meet up with a police officer in my hometown of Redondo Beach, Calif., for a newspaper article on crossing the street safely. (Yes, I was in the paper as the subject of a story before becoming a writer myself years later.)
Of course, I can’t remember much of what happened that day, but there’s a picture of me in my parents’ collection staring into the street while the officer points at the crosswalk. In another photo, the officer is holding my hand as we safely cross a busy intersection.
That day must have been ingrained in my head because I’ve always been paranoid about walking through crosswalks. I always wait until all cars stop going both ways before I make my way to the other side of the street. (Redmond’s plethora of one-way streets obviously doesn’t apply here.)
In two-way street land, friends have often made fun of me for not waiting for one car to pass and then strolling out into the crosswalk while the car in the other lane passes. OK, I’m sure I did that a lot as a teenager, but not in my adulthood. And definitely not after I was bumped by a car in which the driver wasn’t paying attention — I had the right of way in the crosswalk, and thankfully I wasn’t injured. I was mad, though, and let the driver know about it.
I’ve almost been hit a few times while walking in a crosswalk in recent years at my old job in Bothell and at home in Seattle, so I commend the Redmond Police Department for focusing two days downtown on enforcing the law in which cars must wait until pedestrians make their way from curb to curb before moving onward.
I don’t think any of us are in that much of a hurry when we’re driving that we can’t wait an extra 15-20 seconds or so to let someone move through a crosswalk.
We’ve got a nice downtown here and people like to get out on their feet and enjoy it, so drivers, don’t ruin someone’s stroll by being impatient or not paying attention and giving them a scare. You’d want drivers to be courteous to you when you’re walking, as well.
Be smart. Be safe.