Be Careful Out There

If you like to walk, as I do, around your town, be careful. 

Caution and awareness are seared in my head. A friend in another town was walking his dog one morning several years ago. A vehicle killed him and his dog. The driver was never identified.

People get distracted, even drivers. Some don’t like stopping for people in crosswalks. I know it, because they’ve told me. They don’t care about the law, safety, or anything else. Some are too busy with other things. I’ve seen people eating as they drive, talking on their phones, or putting on make-up. Some looked at me as they passed and gave me a nod or a wave. So they see me, but kept going.

Crossing in front of the Jackson County Library in Ashland where Main Street becomes Siskiyou Avenue is the most hazardous in my experience. There’s a traffic light – the final one downtown as you’re going south – about fifty feet in front of it. Leaving downtown frees drivers from the multiple crosswalks, traffic lights, and twenty miles-per-hour speed limit. Now freed, they gun their engines and race up into the twenty-five MPH zone. They don’t to stop again, not when they’ve already had to stop so many times, especially for someone crossing the street in a crosswalk. Better to just miss the person and keep going, right?

Yes, it happens. It’s not fiction or exaggeration.

Perhaps the most disturbing incident this week was the Ashland Police Department‘s car that didn’t stop for me. It was about one in the afternoon. Traffic was light, and it was a beautiful summer day. I was in the southern crosswalk, crossing Main Street at First street. An APD vehicle was approaching. The blue and white SUV was several car lengths away from the northern crosswalk in the center of three lanes. He didn’t stop; he didn’t look my way. I could clearly see him, a white guy with a goatee, with a heavy, burly build, and a receding hairline and sunglasses – but he couldn’t see me (I guess).

When he didn’t yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, neither did two other vehicles, both following him, but in two different lanes. Why should they? The APD car didn’t stop, so it must not be the law, or enforced, they probably assumed. Both of the drivers saw me, giving me a look as they passed, with one driver, a young woman in her twenties waving at me.

The APD car didn’t have his emergency lights on. He, and the others, stopped at the traffic light up the street at Second and Main.

So be careful. Lot of people are distracted. It happens. Many just don’t care or don’t want to stop for pedestrians. And many just don’t see you.

Or so they pretend.

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