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Posted: May 14, 2013 9:00 p.m.

Crosswalk confusion is rampant

I try to walk at least five days or more a week for close to an hour.

Try is the operative word here.

When I first retired from teaching, I was much more dedicated.

But that was 14 years ago. I am getting more creaky and do not have the stamina I once had. You know, the spirit is willing and all that.

I usually meet a friend, and we walk around the downtown area of Covington. And, of course, I drive around the downtown area of Covington.

In both of those situations, walking and driving, I have observed drivers and their differing responses to the white-striped crosswalks designated at several locations within several blocks of the square.

The city has moveable signs that explain that cars are supposed to stop for the crosswalks only when there are actually people using the walks to cross the road.

In other words, stop when there are people in the crosswalks.

I have, on more than one occasion, been driving and nearly rear-ended a car that stopped abruptly for the crosswalk on Clark Street just west of Ramsey’s Furniture Store.

I have been taken by surprise because there was no one in the crosswalk, but apparently the driver has seen the sign about the crosswalk and the only word that registered was "stop."

So, he (or she) slammed on the brakes, causing me to do the same.

At the other extreme, cars cruise through the crosswalks and ignore anyone trying to cross the street.

That is especially true of the crosswalk near my house on Floyd Street and the ones on the Jackson Highway and Monticello Street a block south of the square.

If you are walking there, you have to wait until all cars both ways have gone by and then proceed cautiously and swiftly cross the street.

On the other hand, if you are walking on the square, you are safe to enter the crosswalks about 75 percent of the time.

Mind you, I mean crossing when the light tells you it is OK to cross.

If you are trying to get to the grassy space in the center of the square, there are no traffic lights to help you, as the center lane of traffic has only yield signs.

That crossing can be somewhat tricky.

Most drivers are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of, "I am ignoring you standing on the side of the road in the crosswalk and am speeding on like you never existed, never looking your way,’’ and "I am stopping on a dime because I saw the word stop and did not read the rest of the sign."

Some slow down, and when you do not bravely begin crossing the street, they speed up and blow right by you as if to say, "I gave you a chance and you did not take it."

Some studiously look anywhere but where the walker is standing. I am sure they are thinking, "If I do not see a walker, I am not breaking the law."

Some drivers may actually not see a walker as they are busy with their own concerns.

But most people are very nice. They stop if they see you hovering at the edge of a crosswalk and motion for you to cross.

I appreciate the hand motion, as it indicates that you see me and I am safe. I try to do the same when I am driving.

 

 

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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