Stop, be patient, wait your turn | Letter

Apr 01, 2017

I see an odd and troubling evolution of thinking on cars vs. humans.

I find that it makes most sense for people to stop for cars rather than cars to stop for people.

Yet we have more and more orange flags, blinking lights and visual pollution augmenting the message of a simple stop sign that seems to almost insult the intelligence of our populace.

I've spent a third of my adult life crossing streets in chaotic traffic scenes all over the world. (And here in Edmonds, I rarely drive my car because I enjoy walking almost everywhere.)

The trick that works perfectly for me: stop, be patient, wait my turn.

If a car is barreling by, I relax. He's bigger. If tons of metal have all that inertia up and are rumbling toward me, don’t make it stop and then have to waste all that energy to get up to back up to speed … I’m a little human, and I need to just wait a few moments.

Sooner or later, there is a nice break in the traffic, and I can then look both ways and walk safely across the street. There is always a break in the traffic on the way. I’d rather not spend lots of city money cluttering our beautiful town with orange and yellow flags and signage stopping traffic when pedestrians like me can simply be patient in order to be safe.

Please, if we empower people to believe anyone can just step into the street and cross safely without a short wait for an adequate break in the traffic, there is no end to the visual safeguards we’ll need.

Happy travels (even if you're just staying home).

Rick Steves


Comments (1)
Posted by: Lawrence Greene | Apr 04, 2017 08:09

I don't see all the new orange flags, signs, lights etc, trying to stop traffic  as visual pollution Mr. Steves. I see them as life savers. As a pedestrian, it's easier to tell yourself to "slow down", wait your turn", etc. when you're on vacation because you're on vacation time and things are unfamiliar. When you're in your hometown, you know where you're going and most of the time just want to get there. The new pedestrian aids also help make walking safer for people, especially kids, who text while they're walking. No one is selling the orange flag idea as a magic unicorn to make people think they can just "step into the street and cross safely". It's so that drivers might see you a little sooner and stop before they run you down.

And your concern as an eco-pedestrian of not wanting to stop big trucks and make them waste energy to start up again is noble but that shouldn't be the number one issue; safety should. With texting-while-driving still a big problem, I'd rather see a few more orange flags and cross walk lights than the visual of an ambulance screaming to a hit and run because one, dull, stop sign didn't happen to get the drivers attention. And by the way, if an orange flag that can help a kid or an elderly person get across the street more safely insults your intelligence, you're intelligence needs to get a thicker skin.

Wil Greene


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