Sunday, July 18, 2010

BUS STORY # 193 (People Don’t Want To Wait For Nobody)

Turning car, originally uploaded by ngawangchodron.

When the driver opens the front door to let on a rider, he takes one look and asks, “What happened to you?

A woman’s voice answers, “I got hit by a car!”

She boards carrying a purse and a blind cane. She’s wearing shorts, and she shows the driver a laceration under her right knee. There’s also a bandage winding down from under the shorts.

The driver asks her where it happened.

The intersection of Central and Rio Grande. She was in the crosswalk when the next thing she knew she was looking up at the sky and there was a lot of shouting. Pretty soon, one or two folks are bending over her asking if she’s all right. She says the only thing she could think to ask was “Am I alive?”

The driver asks if she saw it coming.

“Honey, you know I can’t see anything to my right.” She hoists the cane to remind him. “I’ll tell you what’s funny,” she says, “he said he didn’t see me!

She goes on to tell how this old man, he looked like he was 70, he was trying to bend over her and was all wobbly on his cane, and asking if she was OK, and then telling her he didn’t see her. She says she figured he was closer to death than she was, and she didn’t want to say anything that’d make him keel over on top of her.

But afterwards, she adds, people told her he was just trying to beat her through the crosswalk so he wouldn’t be stuck at the light.

The driver asks her what the cops said.

Honey, they didn’t talk to her. Not even in the emergency room. But she’s got a lawyer, and she can hardly wait to see what that police report says.

As it turns out, she may not know whether the report is accurate or not. She tells the driver she doesn’t remember anything other than walking across the street, then looking up at the sky.

Another rider asks her if she was in the crosswalk at the right time.

She says she always crosses with the signal. It’s too risky not to.

There follows a general discussion of intersections in general, and how unsafe they are. There is general agreement that drivers have a low tolerance for pedestrians crossing the street and holding them up.

Our co-rider probably has it right when she sums up the conversation.

“People don’t want to wait for nobody.”

The photo at the top of this story is titled “Turning car” and is posted with the kind permission of ngawangchodron. You can see this and all ngawangchodron’s photos on Flickr at:


Blogger abqdave said...

I remember when Right Turn on Red was widely instituted. At the time, being exclusively a motorist, I thought what a sensible change this was. Instead of having to wait at an intersection just because a light bulb was red, I could now complete my trip faster, with less gas usage and lower air pollution! All with no downside! What a great idea it was.

Now, as a pedestrian and bicyclist, I see the downside. Right Turn on Red just added to strengthening the car culture mindset. What seemed a smart exception now has become a right.

And those things in the road (people, bikes)...they are in the way. "Get on the sidewalk, I am in a hurry" I am sure the old man was thinking. I see and hear this attitude constantly. It doesn't matter if she had the pedestrian light or not; many people's attitudes are that the roads belong exclusively to cars.

Wouldn't it be awesome to get rid of Right Turn on Red? It would be such a great symbol of ending the reign of cars. To those arguments that it would increase idling, and therefore gas usage and air pollution; how about we offset that by changing the speed limit back to 55mph?

7:42 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Dave, I’m pretty impressed by your take on Right Turn on Red. It was new to me. But I think the intrinsic merits of RT on R in terms of traffic flow are sound. The problem (as you astutely diagnose as a misperceived "right”) is our culturally-accepted self-centeredness and sense of entitlement. And returning the speed limit to 55 (or any setting) would be a waste of perfectly good time since most of us not only pay no attention to speed limits, but do so with impunity. We pay lip service to public safety, but our real values are our conveniences and entertainments. That is why nothing is going to change.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought provoking story, BB. Fantastic photo illustration.
Appreciated ABQ Dave's input, too.
I was taught that right on red meant come to a full stop and proceed if it is clear. Now it means scream around the corner into any available opening or create an opening if one isn't readily available.
Rather than do away with r on r, I'd like to see the full stop enforced. I do believe it reduces pollution. I am definitely in favor of the 55 mph, 75 is insane and most drivers feel they must exceed the limit by at least 10 mph no matter what it is.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I do think you're unrealistically optimistic about the ability of law and its enforcement to remake us into a culture that takes responsibility for its behaviors and is considerate of others.

9:46 PM  

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