Most of us walk and drive in this city, and depending on how you spend most of your time transporting yourself, you either complain about the drivers who are texting or not paying attention, or just don’t care to stop for you when you have the right to cross the street, or you complain about the pedestrians who don’t cross where or when they should.
What is important in teasing apart these gripes is knowing where the pedestrian has a legal right to cross the street: The crosswalk. But what is a crosswalk?
Silly question, right? Of course you know what a crosswalk is. Who doesn’t know? It is an area of an intersection where there are lines that show where a pedestrian can cross the street. Well, actually that is only one kind of crosswalk. To get to the other kind of crosswalk you need to know what an intersection is. Okay, this is not as elementary as it seems. Yes, of course it is when two streets cross each other. But what about a street that does not continue through the intersection — a T intersection?
The law considers this an intersection. An example of a T intersections is at 32nd and Albemarle where the Franklin Montessori preschool has its drop-off location.
So let’s go back to crosswalks. There is a crosswalk at all intersections, whether marked or unmarked, and a motorist must stop for the pedestrian in the crosswalk. Yes, those pesky, annoying pedestrians that are crossing at 32nd and Albemarle or at Fessenden and Linnean have the right of way. That means you have to stop for the pedestrians crossing the street. They are not jaywalking.
We have a lot of unmarked crosswalks at intersections in Forest Hills. Yes, it behooves pedestrians to be cautious, but a lot of the behavior of pedestrians (but not all) that is seen as illegal is actually legal no matter how annoying it is to the driver who wants to get from point A to point B without all the fuss and bother of stopping for pedestrians crossing the street.
Now you are really starting to scratch your head and, I hope, starting to rethink your driving behavior. I will be honest, not many folks know the fine points of stopping for pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks. I am giving you the leg up.
Now, most of us are pedestrians and drivers, and we all need to be cautious when we are out and about.
I find that I am driving slower, often under the 25 miles per hour on Albemarle, especially between Connecticut and Wisconsin. Because there are not a lot of lights, pedestrians also have the legal right to cross between intersections. I know I am adding an additional complication, but again, it is not jaywalking.
If a block only has a traffic light at one end, a pedestrian can legally cross at any point. The difference this time is that a person on foot does not have the right of way. But just as we drive defensively because of the stupid things other drivers do, I drive defensively because of the stupid things pedestrians do, as well. And let admit this to ourselves: We all do stupid things.
So let’s review:
Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection (where at least two streets come together). This means a driver must stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. And it would be nice if the motorist would stop as a pedestrian was about to step off the curb.
Also, pedestrians have the legal right to cross in between crosswalks if there are no traffic lights on either end of the block or only one side of the block.
So motorists: Slow down when you see pedestrians about.
Pedestrians: Put away your smartphones when crossing the street. Pay attention. Don’t expect drivers to stop for you even though you have the light, a stop sign or are walking in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Walk defensively.
And let us all pay more attention when we are on our streets.