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Crosswalk Talk

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby pedjihad » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:06 pm

Most of the responses here illustrate the problem here in Madison exactly - maybe this is a Midwest thing. Drivers ignore crosswalks because it impedes their momentum and they don't want to stop. Rather than follow the law, they give excuses about how the law is stupid therefore it shouldn't apply, and I bet most of these people are not frequent pedestrians. The law here in Wisconsin is already more lax than most of the rest of the country, only requiring drivers to stop when a pedestrian has already stepped INTO the crosswalk. Yet they still complain, because it requires them to slow down (no, the pedestrian's time is not important AT ALL). People ignore this law to the extent that most pedestrians here will not even utilize their legal right for fear of injury. In most other places, just standing on the side exhibiting clear intent to cross is a requirement for stopping.

And yes, it is different in California and the West, and it's different on the East Coast too - I know because I've lived in all of these places. It is 100% the worst I've ever seen right here. People actually stop seeing you at the side of the road at a crosswalk, DESPITE that the traffic in these places is 10X worse than here and that these drivers are far more inconvenienced than here in Madison.

The point of this article is highlighting the real problem here and that people are not going to obey this unless it becomes more heavily enforced. If you want a different law, then go lobby your Republican representatives to outlaw being a pedestrian, or something. Madison already does a poor and spotty job at enforcement, and they actually arrange many signaled crosswalks for maximum inconvenience of pedestrians (in other places - they will inconvenience car traffic for the sake of being able to cross a road on foot).

For instance, from one direction you can only cross half of University Ave. right before it becomes Campus Dr. You have to wait TWO cycles, up to 10 minutes, just to cross both halves of the road, and it's clearly timed that way on purpose. Drivers definitely wouldn't put up with that sort of delay. And when classes are in session, there are so many people and bicycles crowded onto that center island that there is often no space to stand - so it's not like the need isn't there. A little further down, there's a very clearly marked crosswalk, and the speed limit is 25 mph. I have to cross there during my workday up to 6 times per day. If I step out into this when a vehicle is waaaaaay down the road (and almost always speeding at least 40 mph, breaking the law themselves and causing more crossing difficulty), with completely adequate time for them to see me crossing, they are supposed to slow down and yield. That's the law. Instead 90% of vehicles will keep going - and many will purposefully cut me off in another lane, yell obscenities or honk their horn, or even pull off moderately dangerous steering moves to scare the crap out of me on purpose, making it look like they will run me over when they clearly are staring right at me. And I echo the experience of others where a car will stop for you in a crosswalk, and another will blow right through it - so you have to stop assuming they will keep going, slowing down everything in the end.

And no, I'm not walking 3 blocks out of my way just to cross the damn street at an intersection where I stand a higher chance of getting hit due to right turning idiots not looking when there are marked crosswalks and jaywalking is also legal. I already spend up to 45 minutes per day trying to cross streets on foot, legally.

Get real people...I call pedestrian jihad. I have a car too, that I drive maybe 5 miles per week - and I yield to all pedestrians even (utterly obviously) waiting to cross. Because you know, people usually don't stand with their toes at the edge of the crosswalk entry ramp for no reason - usually. I apologize with all my heart for slowing you down. End rant.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby snoqueen » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

I'm refering to the practice of arbitrarily stopping in the middle of the street and waving pedestrians off the sidewalk and into traffic. That's just freaking bananas. How could anyone, anywhere ever think it's a good idea?


Oh, I've got the solution to that. Here's what to do when someone not a cop takes it upon himself/herself to direct traffic, and they start waving their arms at you. Turn to the side, showing by body language that you are declining to go where they're telling you to go. (It's your ass on the line, not theirs, right? Look out for #1.) Then, take out your phone. Push a couple buttons or scroll.

For some reason, this always makes people move along. I don't know if they think you're calling 911 or what. It just works.

Same with cars who insist on stopping at the bike path where they have no stop sign but the path does. Just whip out the phone.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:34 pm

snoqueen wrote:Same with cars who insist on stopping at the bike path where they have no stop sign but the path does...
Whenever crosswalk talk starts, I always think first of where the bike path crosses Odana. It drives me absolutely nuts when cars stop to let bikes cross because it seems really dangerous (plenty of room for an impatient fool to whip around a stopped car and plow into someone) but also because the bike path has a stop sign.

But according to the OP, bikes in the crosswalk do have the right-of-way, whether they are riding or walking, stop sign be damned. So again we're back to nonsensical laws which simply assume anything but a car should get first dibs. What is the goal here? Safety or just less restrictions on the movement of pedestrians? Because it seems to me if the goal is safety for everyone, there's no logic in a law which says "______ always has the right-of-way".* Sometimes cars should yield, sometimes pedestrians should yield, and these intelligently-arrived-at-rather-than-arbitrary rules should then be conveyed with simple-to-understand signs and signals.

*with the obvious exception of emergency vehicles, as not only is that exception not arbitrary, emergency vehicles are specifically-equipped to alert other traffic to their presence.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:52 pm

Maybe we should follow boating rules of the road. For instance: Motorboats shall keep out of the way of sailing vessels where courses involve the risk of collision.

Think of car as motorboats and peds as sailing vessels. Remember, bikes are also considered vehicles when on the public roadways, just as automobiles.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Violet_Skye » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:55 pm

DCB wrote:
Violet_Skye wrote: They had stopped and were observing. They waited for me to pass, and then yelled at me. WTF is that?

Right, they stopped to see if any cars were recklessly violating the law about stopping for pedestrians. As it turned, their caution proved wise.

You know those red flags they sometimes put at cross walks, to signal to cars that they intend to cross? They should replace those with loaded shotguns. That would make things safer for pedestrians.


So what is the law about stopping for pedestrians who were stopped, immobile, and were not looking at me or in my direction, were faced the other way and seemed to have no intention of imminently crossing in front of my (again, below speed limit traveling) car? Should I have stopped and waited while they finished making up their minds to cross, holding up traffic in the meantime? It's also a two lane street, so even if I stop, how is that going to make someone in the second lane also stop? Wouldn't the safest choice be for a) the pedestrians to make eye contact and signal their intention to cross in front of me in some way and/or b) wait until a car isn't already right there in front of them? I dunno, I cross streets on foot too, and I'm smart enough to know that the car wins and I lose (potentially life and limb) if there is a dispute. I make eye contact, I use my critical thinking skills, and I cross when there is enough room.

Do you really not see that there are about a zillion gray area situations in the realm of crosswalk activity?
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby jman111 » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:08 pm

Ninja wrote:I think part of the problem is that cops and other city vehicles have been instructed (I assume, based on the uniformity) to engage in some very dangerous, and I would argue illegal, behavior when driving, and residents model that behavior. I'm refering to the practice of arbitrarily stopping in the middle of the street and waving pedestrians off the sidewalk and into traffic. That's just freaking bananas. How could anyone, anywhere ever think it's a good idea?
I guess I'm one of those drivers to whom Ninja objects. I disagree that the practice involves "arbitrarily stopping in the middle of the street". Rather, it follows the establishment of eye contact with a pedestrian who is clearly waiting to cross, but is unwilling to just strut out in front of approaching vehicles. I usually only do this when it is clear that there will not be a break in traffic immediately (or at least close) behind me.

I like to think that I'm accomodating peds like Skye:
Violet_Skye wrote:I make eye contact, I use my critical thinking skills, and I cross when there is enough room.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:18 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Think of car as motorboats and peds as sailing vessels.
Given the size and maneuverability of these objects, your conclusion seems exactly backwards to me.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:27 pm

Tell that to a senior citizen pedestrian trying to walk across traffic while a ton of automobile comes barreling through.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:59 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Tell that to a senior citizen pedestrian trying to walk across traffic while a ton of automobile comes barreling through.
Key word: Ton.

Why anyone thinks the thing that weighs 100-200lbs. should automatically have right-of-way over the thing that weighs about a ton is beyond me. The thing most likely to create a dangerous situation (motorboat or ped) and also the most likely to be seriously harmed by a collision (motorboat or ped) is the most obvious starting point for who should yield. That is, unless the desired outcome is more about ease for pedestrians rather than safety for everyone.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby DCB » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:42 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:But according to the OP, bikes in the crosswalk do have the right-of-way, whether they are riding or walking, stop sign be damned.

The OP refers to pedestrians. Bicycles are classified as vehicles, and have to follow all the rules of the road as any other vehicle.

In the "Shorewood Cops" thread, there was a discussion of scofflaw cyclists who roll through stop signs. Yes, its a violation! But some of us argued that police should focus on situations that are actually risky.

Regarding the cars that voluntarily yield, I agree, that's foolish.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:58 pm

DCB wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote:But according to the OP, bikes in the crosswalk do have the right-of-way, whether they are riding or walking, stop sign be damned.

The OP refers to pedestrians. Bicycles are classified as vehicles, and have to follow all the rules of the road as any other vehicle.

My bad. I meant the link in the OP.
Here is the relevant passage:
Bikers in crosswalks, however, are considered pedestrians whether they are walking or riding their bikes.

Where the bike path crosses Odana, there is a stop sign for the path, but there is also a crosswalk. The above quote leads me to believe that a bike (after coming to a complete stop, of course) can proceed to ride out into the crosswalk and have the full right-of-way despite two (wide enough for four) lanes of (often heavy) traffic. This is not logical if the desired result is safety for everyone.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Ninja » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:06 pm

jman111 wrote:I guess I'm one of those drivers to whom Ninja objects. I disagree that the practice involves "arbitrarily stopping in the middle of the street". Rather, it follows the establishment of eye contact with a pedestrian who is clearly waiting to cross, but is unwilling to just strut out in front of approaching vehicles. I usually only do this when it is clear that there will not be a break in traffic immediately (or at least close) behind me.


You're right, I probably should have said unilateral and subjective rather than arbitrary. I respect that you have an actual thoughtful process behind your decision, and I don't see any problem with doing what you describe.

And cops do it thoughtfully and safely too, I just don't think it's a great idea for them to do so because it leads to people who don't show your judgment doing it, and that can be very dangerous. Also I'd have to check my Wisconsin vehicle code, but I suspect there's a law against stopping in a traffic lane without a legitimate reason so maybe cops shouldn't do that in general (but obviously helping a pedestrian cross is not per se illegitimate so I don't feel the need to go down that road).

I do it too, when an elderly person, or somebody with a physical disability, or a baby carriage needs to cross at an uncontrolled crosswalk. It's common courtesy, but I think it gets a lot less common when you've got drivers and pedestrians engaging in conflict and brinksmanship, so everybody should act a little more responsibly.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby fennel » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:08 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:I found the opening sentence a little confusing:
The Wisconsin law is very specific: "Drivers must yield to pedestrians when crossing a sidewalk or entering an alley or driveway."
Who is crossing the sidewalk, the driver or the pedestrian? (I know the answer to this, but syntactically speaking this sentence does not qualify as "very specific"). And this says nothing about crosswalks or crossing the street in general.

Just getting back to this ...

This seems perfectly unambiguous to me. The subject of the sentence is "Drivers." It never shifts, to refer to pedestrians. So, as written, it is Drivers who are being referred to. So the drivers must yield ...
Whether the pedestrians are crossing or dancing or wildly gesticulating is irrelevant.
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby Detritus » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:57 pm

fennel wrote:Whether the pedestrians are crossing or dancing or wildly gesticulating is irrelevant.

Or sitting on the pavement yelling into their cellphone "Where are you guys?"

Fennel is right. The sentence is not ambiguous. Just remove the object in the main clause and you can see that: "Drivers must yield when crossing a sidewalk or entering an alley or driveway."
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Re: Crosswalk Talk

Postby sylvie » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:41 am

A major hazard is those drivers who whip around your vehicle when it is stopped on the street. I've seen people almost get hit by non-thinking drivers who do that.
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