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I walk my dogs every morning. Generally I walk a couple miles, which means I end up crossing a fair number of intersections. And as I walk, I see folks driving to work. Though most stop at the red lights and stop signs, within the last month or so I’ve seen two motorists stop at a red light, then proceed straight through well before the light turns green. And I’ve seen more drivers than I can count roll through stop signs.

I’m kind of at a loss about how to respond to these imprudent (and illegal) driving decisions. But there’s a third behavior that I have settled on a course of action for. I call my response a “double tap,” and I hand it out free of charge to motorists that roll right into the pedestrian crosswalk before coming to a complete stop.

A truck and car had to back up when they realized there were pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk. (27 June 2016, at the intersection of College and Mountain)

A truck and car had to back up when they realized there were pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk. (27 June 2016, at the intersection of College and Mountain)

I believe walking is one of the most pleasant ways to get around. It gives you time to stop and smell the roses. And though it’s not always practical, when I am able to do it, or when I’m just out walking the dogs, I want to have a pleasant experience.

There are some situations that I find myself in where I feel the need to raise a bit of a fuss because someone is putting me in danger during my walk. More often than not, this happens when I’m crossing at a crosswalk and someone decides to make a left hand turn right into me. At that point I often wave my hands and call out (That’s what I consider making a fuss.) until they notice me and let me continue. I’ve had a couple of close calls (with one guy passing so closely behind me I could feel the heat of his engine) and I am of the opinion that such experiences can dampen even the most otherwise beautiful walk.

But there are some infractions against me as a pedestrian that I don’t feel infringe on my safety so much as they cast a bit of disrespect in my general direction. For these instances, I don’t want to make a fuss. But I still believe it’s OK to help folks realize that something wasn’t quite right with our interaction. A perfect example of this is when people drive their cars right into the pedestrian crossing zone before coming to a complete stop. When this occurs I make sure it’s safe to pass in front of the vehicle. (It’s not safe if they’re going to make a right hand turn on red and they don’t even notice you’re there.) If it’s safe to pass, then I walk in front of the vehicle and, as I’m passing, I reach out my hand and pat the top of their hood.

I’m not talking about slapping or banging or pounding. I’m putting the same amount of pressure on their vehicles as I would put on a baby’s back as I pat them to sleep. It’s gentle. But it’s noticeable. It makes a point.

Pedestrian passes in front of a car in the crosswalk on College at Mountain.

Pedestrian passes in front of a car in the crosswalk on College at Mountain.

I’m not trying to start something. I just want to let them know that I’m there. I don’t look at the person. That would feel confrontational to me. Instead, as I cross, I reach out, double tap the hood, and continue walking. I don’t want to stop and talk about it. I’m just letting them know that despite the fact that they were blocking my way, I made it safely across. Thanks for not running me over. You can go on your way now.

One problem with turning right on red in a busy pedestrian zone is that you might be looking let to make sure that the way is clear of vehicles, and you might miss the fact that a pedestrian is crossing in front of you. Besides, this is a no right turn on red zone. (Despite that fact, I saw several people do it in the short time I stood at the intersection of College and Mountain.)

One problem with turning right on red in a busy pedestrian zone is that you might be looking left to make sure that the way is clear of vehicles and miss the fact that a pedestrian is crossing in front of you. Besides, this is a no right turn on red zone. (Despite that fact, I saw several people turn on red in the short time I stood at the intersection of College and Mountain.)

There are other ways to let motorists know that they’re blocking an area where pedestrians are crossing. In the video below, a man decided to stand in front of a car that fully blocked the crosswalk. It took an entire cycle of the light before the driver finally realized that the only way out was to back out of the crosswalk.

 

What do you do when you come across a car stopped in the crosswalk?