Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yield to Pedestrians in the Crosswalk -- IT'S THE LAW!!!

First off, I want to apologize for my sporadic postings. I have quite a few things going on in my life that are distracting me from providing loyal readers with my often insensitive yet thoroughly accurate rants on everything Rochester. But enough of that, on to the good stuff.

As a downtown resident and worker, I see lots of things on my walks to and from work and home. Some good things, some bad things. One thing I not only see but also encounter on a regular basis is conflict between cars and pedestrians. There are far too many idiot drivers that just don't understand how to drive in an environment that is designed for pedestrians. Today at lunch time, for instance, I watched as a car turned right onto Main from Fitzhugh while a throng of pedestrians in the crosswalk (who had the right-of-way) had to step back to avoid being hit. Thank goodness these folks were paying attention; most don't (and shouldn't have to) because if you're a pedestrian in the crosswalk with the right-of-way, you shouldn't have anything to fear.

Right turns into the path of oncoming pedestrians is the most common problem I encounter as a pedestrian commuter. Probably the worst location for this in all of downtown is the corner of State and Andrews, with the corner of East and Main a close second. I know that it is difficult, as a driver, to respect pedestrians. They look so wimpy without all that glass and steel surrounding them. They think they're so great using their feet instead of gasoline to get from point A to point B. Just thinking about it makes me want to hit one right now.

To play devil's advocate, pedestrians too are guilty of committing some very stupid violations downtown as well. The mid-block dash is a common occurrence that I too am guilty of regularly, often because I want to avoid crossing at intersections because of the aforementioned problem. A more serious problem that blows my mind is the pedestrian crossing against oncoming traffic. Whether they're too cool to wait on the sidewalk or are actually in a hurry to get someplace, too many people walk right into the path of oncoming vehicles. Maybe they don't realize that they don't have the right-of-way just because they're in a crosswalk or maybe they don't realize how badly they'd be hurt if they were hit by an El Dorado at 45 mph. Stupid behavior like this puts all pedestrians, and drivers, at risk. Maybe pedestrian education courses are needed.

Speaking of education, back to the idiot drivers, the real enemy of the downtown pedestrian. A few lessons for them to learn: red lights function as 'Stop' signs, so please apply your brakes fully. Furthermore, 'Stop' signs aren't there for decoration, so please respect them. When you see 'No Turn on Red', it doesn't mean stop, look around, and haul ass around the corner. Similarly, 'No Left Turn' signs apply to everyone but buses and emergency vehicles; if you're not driving one of those, please obey the law. I'll close with two words: "one way".

If downtown Rochester is going to continue to blossom as a residential neighborhood, the pedestrian must be protected. That means that the RPD officer sitting at the corner of Main & State should actually bust drivers for running red lights, turning on red, making illegal left turns, and turning into the path of pedestrians. Increased enforcement could do a lot to improve the civility of walking downtown and in so doing, contribute to the success of our center city.