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Pedestrians Caught in the Crosswalk

9:23 AM EDT on June 14, 2010

4657946563_ba164d6aa5.jpgFinding a
safe place to cross can be hazardous to your health. (Photo: jr????? via

Today on the Streetsblog Network, reports of
obstacles for pedestrians from two states.

First, from Massachusetts, some observations about crosswalk
design. In theory, a crosswalk with a signal and a button for a
pedestrian to activate the signal should be a welcoming sight for
someone traveling on foot. But as TransitBoston
points out in a post this morning, the presence of that button is often
window-dressing for an intersection that functions poorly for anyone
not traveling by car:

At least one intersection in Newton requires three entirelight cycles to cross from corner to corner. Here is a dramatization ofthe process: Press a button. Wait a minute. Cross. Stop. Press anotherbutton. Wait a minute. Cross. Stop. Press a third button. Wait a minute. Cross …. Whew, that was exhausting. And it was only 150 feet ofwalking. That is a walk signal functioning (by some meaning of the word) as designed, and it is not really much of an outlier as crosswalksignals go. Many other crosswalks require at least two cycles to go from corner to corner.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, WalkBikeJersey
reports that a businessman in a Jersey Shore community is
calling for the repeal of a new law that requires cars to stop for
pedestrians in crosswalks. His argument might strike you as strange --
he says that the law is "dangerous." But what, exactly, is the danger
he's so concerned about? WalkBikeJersey writes:

In New Jersey, where turning right on red is a birthright, the"Stop for Pedestrians in the Crosswalk" appears to have puzzled ageneration of suburban drivers trained to own the road…. Inevitably lack of understanding generates backlash. The Atlantic City Press reports that Long Beach Township businessman DickJeffries has started a petition to repeal the stop for pedestrians lawwith the endorsement of Mayor Joseph Mancini.…

Jeffries' quotesin the article totally reflect his windshield view of traffic safety:

"People don’t know what to do because the law is so unclear. Everyone is sofrightened by this thing with these big signs they put up. I mean, whatis it? A $200 fine and two points on your license?"

Ah, yes. That is terrifying -- the thought that if you don't stop
your two-ton vehicle to let another human being cross the street, you
might risk not only a fine, but two points on your license as

More from around the network: City Block on the true
cost of gasoline. Livin
in the Bike Lane
on a Florida law that would require cyclists to
ride in bike lanes or to the right of a car traffic lane. And Cap'n
on glamour and honesty in bus service.

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