John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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"Helpful" drivers

Just a few minutes ago, I was standing on a street corner, waiting for the traffic to let up so I could cross the street. A driver in the right lane slowed down as he neared me; I waved my arm in the universal "go around me" gesture, and he accelerated past me. And about 30-45 seconds later, the traffic cleared and I crossed the street.

The driver who was going to stop to let me cross the street was trying to do me a favor, and I'm sure he thought that stopping would have made things safer for me. But the street I was waiting to cross was one-way, and just because the driver in the right lane stops doesn't mean the drivers in the left lane are going to stop too.I would suggest the opposite is true. For one thing, depending on the size of the car in the right lane, the stopped car might make it harder for a car in the left lane to see me. Also, the people behind the stopped car in the right lane might get impatient and whip into the left lane just in time to run into me.

Because I have an aversion to being hit by cars, I just stand there waiting when I find myself in situations like that. If they fail to take the hint, I'll wave them along. But one time, the driver so completely and thoroughly failed to take the hint that I actually had to walk away from the corner and come back after she'd gone. The situation was a little different; it was a four-lane road, two in each direction, so not only was there the "left lane drivers might not stop" issue, there was also the "traffic coming the other direction might not stop" issue. They wouldn't have the excuse of not seeing me behind the stopped cars" like the left lane drivers, and in fact Madison drivers are required to stop for pedestrians once they've "committed to the crosswalk," but I don't like to put my life in the lands of that section of the municipal code.

Another class of would-be helpful drivers that irritate me are those who slow down for me when I'm jaywalking. Again, I appreciate the gesture, but I based my decision to cross the street at that time at that location on the assumption that the car in the travel lanes on the other side of the street would maintain its speed and would be well past me by the time I reached that lane. By slowing down or stopping for me, they're basically forcing me to walk in front of the oncoming car, which is what I was trying to avoid, because again, I don't like being hit by cars.
Tags: petty complaints, transportation, wisconsin: madison

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