It’s strange when doing the right thing is going beyond the call of duty. After enjoying a pleasant although chilly walk through the Crescent Hill neighborhood in December, I was standing at the curb of the intersection between Frankfort and Birchwood Avenues. As a pedestrian, it’s always a little bit difficult to determine just what to do at an unregulated intersection on an arterial road.
Standing on railroad track side of Frankfort, it’s clear that pedestrian amenities are lacking. There is a crosswalk painted at the road but that’s no guarantee of safety. The nearest stoplight was over 300 feet in one direction and beyond sight in the other. There were no sidewalks.
I decided to wait for a break in traffic and cross at Birchwood in the crosswalk. After all, under Kentucky state law, drivers are theoretically supposed to yield to pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks when there is no traffic light. Easier said than done.
After waiting about a minute, a motorist in the far lane stopped. Traffic near me continued to barrel through the crosswalk and I assumed the opposite driver was waiting to make a turn.
After another minute it became clear that this stopped motorist was actually yielding to me, a pedestrian in a crosswalk. I kept trying to find a break in traffic in the other lane as it was clear no driver was going to observe proper right of way. In the meantime, stopped drivers behind the one polite individual began laying on the horn and passing in the parking lane.
In the end, I made it across and was quite flattered by the generosity of the original motorist stopping and yielding. But isn’t this supposed to happen every time? That’s what the law says, doesn’t it? Just one driver doing the right thing, however, was enough to make me feel a little better on the cold and cloudy day.
But when it comes down to it, why don’t more drivers properly yield to pedestrians? I have talked about those fancy crosswalks with the flashy lights that get in drivers’ faces about yielding and they don’t even always work. Is it that drivers don’t care? Don’t know any better? Just plain don’t like people not inside a car?
I believe most violations are made without the driver even recognizing he or she did anything wrong, but with Louisville’s pedestrian safety record in the gutter, how do we raise awareness of these issues? Enforcement or education? What are your thoughts?