Pedestrians Caught in the Crosswalk

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 entire
light cycles to cross from corner to corner. Here is a dramatization of
the process: Press a button. Wait a minute. Cross. Stop. Press another
button. Wait a minute. Cross. Stop. Press a third button. Wait a minute.
Cross …. Whew, that was exhausting. And it was only 150 feet of
walking. That is a walk signal functioning (by some meaning of the word)
as designed, and it is not really much of an outlier as crosswalk
signals 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 a
generation of suburban drivers trained to own the road…. Inevitably lack
of understanding generates backlash. The Atlantic
City Press reports
that Long Beach Township businessman Dick
Jeffries has started a petition to repeal the stop for pedestrians law
with the endorsement of Mayor Joseph Mancini.…

Jeffries’ quotes
in the article totally reflect his windshield view of traffic safety:

don’t know what to do because the law is so unclear. Everyone is so
frightened by this thing with these big signs they put up. I mean, what
is 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.


Comfortable Drivers and Talking Crosswalks

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’ve got a post from weighing in on a new crosswalk treatment in a Michigan town: Can this crosswalk penetrate a driver’s consciousness? (Photo: R.D. Jones) Some fancy solar-powered crosswalk signs (the “Enhancer”), with lights, flashing beacons, and a pleasant spoken instructions have recently been installed in Lyon Township […]

St. Louis to Pedestrians: Drop Dead

Here’s a great example of the wrong way to handle a tricky pedestrian crossing in your town. At the request of a local hospital, the city of St. Louis recently removed a frequently-used crosswalk for at least the next two years, apparently in conjunction with nearby construction. The city didn’t just scrub away the markings — […]

To Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities, Focus Enforcement on Cars

Today the issue of pedestrian safety has popped up a couple of times on the Streetsblog Network. First, the folks at WalkBike Jersey report that a bill giving pedestrians more protection in the crosswalk has passed the State Assembly and is moving to committee in the Senate: Photo by tomswift46 via Flickr. Under the bill, […]