Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Look Before Driving

When my family and I lived in Boulder, Colorado, sometimes I’d get annoyed while driving through town. At the time, I felt that the pedestrian crosswalk precautions were a little bit much.
There are signs. Thick lines of paint on the street. Flashing lights on poles. And a loud voice announcing that pedestrians were using the crosswalk.
The first several times I drove through them, I’d roll my eyes. “Really?” I’d think. “Do I really need all this to remind me that pedestrians sometimes walk across the street here? This is too much.”
Was it?
I never hit or even came close to hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist in Boulder.
Lincoln, Nebraska has a ton of foot and bicycle traffic, too, but not as much trumpeting parade about it. Here, you don’t get reminded to use common sense when you pull up to an intersection near campus. Instead, the flood of students crossing the street reminds you that you can’t pull across the crosswalk as you wait for traffic to lighten so you can turn the corner. You feel like an idiot as everyone walks around your car and gives you dirty looks.
Nobody ever gets in their car and plans to hit someone with it, but I’ve come close a couple of times. There’s a blind corner in the alley behind Tico’s that you have to completely stop and inch forward bit by bit until you can see if there’s anyone you’re about to ram into coming down the sidewalk.
I’d imagine that Portland is more like Boulder than Lincoln is. It’s hard to miss a loud pedestrian crosswalk, especially when there are other cars stopped for aforementioned pedestrians. Nobody gets up in the morning planning to be vilified on the internet, but sometimes when you hit an internet celebrity riding her bicycle across a very bicycle-friendly crosswalk in a very bicycle-friendly city, you end up being the jerk everyone on the internet hates.
I hope you’re okay, Erika, and if nothing else, your adventure today will make the rude gentleman a more respectful and attentive driver.

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