“look both ways”

I live in a quaint college town, I describe it as a little bit of the East Coast nestled in a Southern California town. It lends for a lot of foot traffic at any given time of the day. So naturally a “crosswalk” could be assumed as a safe option – when crossing the street?

While I think it is important to teach “safe crossing” methods I think it has to be said that motorist need to be careful and alert at all times. The truth of the matter is – a pedestrian and a vehicle are no match for one another, the pedestrian and the driver both have a responsibility, to share the road safely.

As a pedestrian:

Always cross at designated crosswalks – follow pedestrian signs and traffic signals.

  • I’m always sure to wear “bright” reflective gear – dress to be seen and make it easier for the drivers to see you.
  • Before stepping off the curb always look “both ways” and before moving into the intersection be sure to make eye contact with drivers – never assume they have seen you.
  • I am never without my ear-buds/earphones but I also know how incredibly vital it is to focus my full attention on what is happening around me when approaching an intersection. Unfortunately there are some drivers who may not always stop or obey traffic signals. I have become more aware of vehicles turning left or right through the crosswalk. Drivers attention may be focused on oncoming traffic, it has created some close calls for me.
  • I typically avoid roads without sidewalks but for some it is unavoidable; walk facing traffic, oncoming vehicles. Remember to wear your reflective gear or you can even use a flashlight.

… And as a driver:

Be aware and courteous, the pedestrian always has the right away! 

  • I’m always aware – on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists, especially at dusk and obviously when it’s dark. Extra careful in wet weather when visibility is limited, at intersections and near transit stops where pedestrians will be coming and going and may not use crosswalks.
  • Before turning at an intersection, I scan the crosswalk to make sure there are no pedestrians crossing.
  • Many cyclists in my community are still on our roads during the fall and winter months. Perhaps in your neighborhood to, so before you or one of your passengers open a vehicle door, check for oncoming cyclists. Also take another look before you merge to make that right hand turn at the intersection.

Because I have had several close calls, it’s made it necessary for me to adjust some of my routes and the time of day that I walk or run. But the summer months are just around the corner which means a lot more kid activity – please be aware! And while I don’t mean to sound maudlin it really is a matter of life or death for those of us out there pounding the pavement!