Sunday, July 27, 2008

Crosswalks of Doom

For anyone familiar with the M-Path this is a familiar and dangerous sight; Cars blowing right through crosswalks making right hand turns (or more likely, camping out there, because the traffic on US 1 is so thick that they'll never get to turn anyway) despite the fact that bikers and pedestrians having the green light. You would think threatening signs like this:

might discourage people from jeopardizing the lives of self-propelled commuters, but they do not. There are two reasons for the signs' lack of efficacy; (1) Lack of enforcement. I have never seen anyone getting a ticket for blocking the box, nor heard of it. (2) Lack of visual impact. The signs tend to blend into the background (signs signs everywhere there's signs). 
I would love to see a bicycle policeman patrolling the M-Path. Police officers in cars don't seem to have any interest in enforcing that law, and logistically, it would be hard for them to do. But, a bicycle cop armed with a digital camera would be well equipped to enforce this law. Plus, think about the revenue that would be raked in until drives came to their senses. 

We may or may not get bike cops making the M-Path safe for us all, but fortunately the M-Path Master Plan does have a solution for increasing the visibility of the crosswalks.

I think the visual impact of the ladder style, green crosswalk will help drivers become more aware that there are other people on the roads besides themselves. 

Until these solutions are enacted we are on our own. We all want safer biking conditions, but none of us want to be martyrs for them. So please remember, when you see some jerk in the crosswalk blocking your right of way, just let him pass. Don't risk it. Remember why we commute by bike. It's more enjoyable than commuting by car. That driver is blowing through the crosswalk, because he's miserable on his commute home. We're not. We're on bikes, and we are happy.