I’ve taken the past few weeks off from writing, not because of a lack of things that infuriate me as a pedestrian, but because of an uncertainty as to the value of my rants. However, the other day I suffered an injustice that convinced me of the need to strike forth again.
Traffic lights are set up for maximum efficiency, at least for cars. Early last month I wrote “if you’re standing at the corner waiting for the light to turn, please press the walk button. You may believe it’s an exercise in futility; that’s your prerogative. For those of us who have seen the walk sign pop up only when the button is pushed, humor us and push the damn button.” With this in mind, I walked up to the corner the other day, watched the opposite light turn yellow (or orange, or whatever color you want to call it), pressed the walk button, started crossing the street while focusing on a car that was halfway into the crosswalk and never bothered looking at the light. Yeah, I know, I failed to heed my own advice, but I had the right of way; or at least I thought I did. Serves me right I guess. (As a bit of background, I’ve walked across this intersection twice a day every weekend for the past 2 years, plus several other times, probably in excess of 200 total.) By the time I looked at the light for the traffic heading in the other direction, it had turned green, without the walk sign having ever registered my existence.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it proves yet again that pedestrians are second class citizens. Despite having pushed the button before the light would have turned green, it did not since no cars were triggering the sensors. The fact that the default is for no walk sign is disconcerting enough. Having to push the button early enough for the system to register pedestrians are present (even when it still occurs before the light turns) represents yet another barrier to pedestrians. As if the deck weren’t stacked enough, at this particular intersection, even when you press the button, the time allotted is barely enough for people with impairments to cross. The fact that this particular crosswalk is located less than half a block from an assisted living complex makes me that much more furious, hence the need to keep writing.
[Image source; a 2nd Green original]