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Friday, January 2, 2009

Pedestrian Blues

I recently learned that as of May 2008, it is actually an offence to enter a crosswalk unless the "walk" signal is displayed. Common sense, maybe, not to try to cross the street on a "don't walk" signal. But what if the hand has just started to flash,

Posted on Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 7:24 AM

Published December 30, 2008.Pedestrian Blues

I recently learned that as of May 2008, it is actually an offence to enter a crosswalk unless the "walk" signal is displayed. Common sense, maybe, not to try to cross the street on a "don't walk" signal. But what if the hand has just started to flash, and you are an able bodied person who is perfectly capable of sprinting across the road before the hand even stops flashing? Stepping off the curb without the blessing of the little walking man, under any circumstances, could get you a $164 fine. They said this law was necessary for pedestrian safety. Bullshit. These kinds of nanny-state laws are never about safety. They are about control. And what about those pedestrian signals that require you to reach the intersection before the light changes in order to press the button? If you don't get to that intersection in time, you don't get to cross until the next cycle. Imagine the uproar if some such assinine restriction was applied to vehicle traffic!

But then, the car is king. Don't kid yourself. These measures have nothing to do with pedestrian safety and everything to do with driver convenience. They are evidence of the anti-pedestrian climate that seeks to control and restrict pedestrian traffic to the benefit of vehicle traffic. Look at the pedestrian proof barrier at the Mumford Road bus terminal. Again, they sited pedestrian safety. Safety my ass. Pedestrian safety would have been served with a half signal crossing like the one on Quinpool Road at the McDonalds. I don't know what that monstrosity cost, but I'm sure it cost a hell of a lot more than a bucket of paint and a light. So rather that install something to make it safe for pedestrians to cross the street where it's convenient for them to cross, the city spent ten times (a hundred times?) more money to erect a barrier to force pedestrians to cross where it's convenient for vehicles to have them cross. Once again, nothing to do with pedestrian safety, everything to do with driver convenience. In this city, the rule is cars first, people second.

But why are people in cars more important than people not in cars? What makes the needs and wants of the driving public more pressing than the needs and wants of the walking public? Simple. One person in a car can buy a hell of a lot more shit than one person on foot. One person in a car pays for gas, insurance, and maintenance that a person on foot does not have to worry about. One person in a car contributes far more to the economy than one person on foot. Of course, one person in a car also creates a far greater burden on the environment than one person on foot. But they haven't figured out how to put a pricetag on that yet. And so the person in the car is more important than the person on foot.

Cyclist are organized and vocal. They fight for their rights. Good for them. But who will advocate for the pedestrians? I am a Pedestrian, and I am sick of this shit. It's time for us to fight back.

'Yote

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