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Pedestrians Caught in the Crosswalk

10:33 AM EDT on June 14, 2010

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

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 Blog 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:

"People 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 well.

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 Transit on glamour and honesty in bus service.

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