Friday, March 31, 2017

When you stumble out of that bar, at least cross at the corner


     In 2015 I looked at the red crossing flags of Evanston, a charming 19th century practice that somehow popped up in the 21st century. But only here on the blog. It seems something worth sharing with the Sun-Times readership, and this study of pedestrian fatalities seem the perfect opportunity.

     Seldom in modern society do you engage in an activity where anyone makes the suggestion: You know, this might go more smoothly if you wave a flag over your head.
     Celebrating patriotic holidays, perhaps.
     But if you attempt to cross the street at one of 11 busy locations in Evanston, you will find a white cylindrical container holding wooden dowels bearing red flags — unless delinquents have swiped them — and a stark sign warning: LOOK LEFT & RIGHT WHEN CROSSING — FOR ADDED VISIBILITY CARRY RED FLAG ACROSS WITH YOU." The concept is, you pluck a flag out of one container, cross in safety, then deposit it in the cylinder attached to the sign across the street.
     A little unsettling, isn't it? If the crossing is dangerous enough to demand flags, why not install a stop sign? Then again, perhaps being unsettled as you walk around town is a good thing.
     Pedestrian traffic fatalities are soaring in this country, up 25 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to a report issued Thursday by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Which means pedestrian fatalities are rising four times faster than auto deaths.

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10 comments:

  1. My mother also told me every day to look both ways before crossing the street; I still do. Unfortunately, this rule seems to be no longer taught. It's common to see people - kids, teenagers, adults - just cross tha street without looking for traffic. I assume they realize there are cars in the streets that could hit them. Maybe it's because we can't wait for anything anymore. You stand in front of the microwave impatient that your whatever is taking too long to cook. I guess waiting for traffic to clear is just too much effort for people today. If I didn't pay attention, I think I'd hit at least a couple of people a day. This shouldn't be that difficult.

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  2. the stop for pedestrian ( its state law) signs in chicago crosswalks somehow seem counterproductive . even making the situation more dangerous and sometimes contentious . drivers can't stop instantly as soon as a person strides without hesitation into traffic. but people often expect it. sometimes going so far as to berate drivers for not screeching to a stop. I've even seen people kick or punch cars, as the drivers refuse to stop for these often damaged or defaced signs. people don't want to wait for a break in traffic to cross safely. my kids do this stupid shit. and everybody seems to be running late and are in such a hurry. leave earlier slow down . the report says your 7 times more likely to die if a car hits you going 40 than 10. my uncle taught me the law of tonnage and always said you can be in the right and still end up dead.

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  3. On two protracted occasions I had the lucky chance to be living 2-1/2 miles from my work. There was virtually no parking available at either place and taking the bus actually took longer than to walk the distance. Walking five miles a day was almost as good as a gym. My only expense was to have shoes re-soled (this was back in the days when there were shoe repair places). BUT... I found more money on the sidewalk! Pennies and nickels, of course, but quarters and bills. My biggest take was a five and two ones. So not only is walking virtually free... it pays.

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  4. Many, if not most, Illinois drivers don't realize they are breaking the law when they don't stop for pedestrians at all crosswalks, even when there are no signs or markings. Drivers are also required by law to exercise due care, so they should all be paying attention to the road and driving slow enough to stop. Getting all drivers to drive like they know and respect these laws would go a long way to avoiding these tragic fatalities and most other traffic accidents.

    The good news for drivers is that in spite of occasionally having their cars kicked or punched, none of them had died as a result of hitting a pedestrian.

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    1. 2 chances of that happening slim and none

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  5. One of the biggest problems in this regard is trans-Atlantic pedestrians looking the wrong way. Brits in America look right instead of left, and Americans in Britain do the reverse.

    It's a bigger problem than many people might realize:

    --Winston Churchill was seriously injured by a car in New York after looking the wrong way. He was laid up in the hospital for months.

    --Signs in London, and presumably elsewhere in the UK, tell pedestrians, "Look Right."

    --A novel had a young British spy in World War II get caught because she looked right first before crossing a street in Paris.

    Too bad it's not all uniform. As a frustrated Englishman, overheard by my father on a Chicago street, exclaimed: "Why in God's name can't they drive on the left side of the road like God intended!?"

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    1. Not a fan of Winston, but have to mention that he was honest enough to admit that it was entirely his own fault and blamed no one but himself.

      john

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  6. My problem is pedestrians at crossings controlled by traffic lights and do-not-walk warning signals. Quite often they completely ignore them, forcing drivers to brake suddenly to avoid them, risking their own safety. I wonder if there are statistics on car accidents and injuries to pedestrians at these specific locations.

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  7. The City of Chicago recognizes the problem, and as always devises a plan to make things worse. Automatic speeding cameras, that's the ticket! both literally and figuratively. A few years ago they placed cameras in front of Jones College Prep High School, to slow down traffic and increase the safety of pedestrians. It wasn't really necessary because within one block to the north and south on State Street there are traffic lights at 8th St., Polk St., Balbo St., Harrison St., and Congress. The lights being out of sequence resulted in gridlock in that stretch of road, hence no tickets. Now the lights are synchronized so they can generate lots of cash. Now the poor children must carefully navigate their street crossings to avoid speeding cars.

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  8. Older women are being mowed down around here.

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Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted, assuming they aren't, you know, mean and crazy.