Thrill seekers who travel great distances to climb tall mountains or jump out of airplanes could save time and money… by staying in Woodbury and trying to cross the street!
I recall my adrenaline pumping while trying to push a stroller, hold a preschooler’s hand and drag said preschooler’s training-wheeled bicycle across Lake Road, all while cars barreled down on us with drivers seemingly unconcerned over our plight.
Minnesota statute says no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for a driver to yield.
I didn’t! The road was clear when we stepped into the crosswalk. But the inchworm speed of a mother towing children isn’t much of a match for vehicles traveling 45-50 mph in a 35 mph zone. I remember trying to run while staring a driver down, yelling at them, “Really?!”
Eventually cars did slow to a stop. But not before my heart rate probably topped that of a contestant on the Amazing Race.
Mind you, this is the very crosswalk dozens of teens use to get to Woodbury High School. I’m not sure how they accomplish this feat unharmed.
Growing up in Michigan, I walked to school. Crossed a highway with the aid of a burly old crossing guard who wore a uniform, complete with an official looking eight-point cap. We called him “Coppy.”
I remember him once banging his stop sign on the hood of a car trying to sneak a turn through the crosswalk. Coppy took crossing the street very seriously! God bless old Coppy.
Later, I lived in Seattle and was amazed at how serious those people take pedestrians. If I so much as dipped a toe over the curb, cars nearly a block away would hit the brakes in deference. I got used to that. Thought it was some new pedestrian-friendly enlightenment that had swept the nation. Then I moved to Minnesota.
Only a few drivers seem to harbor Northwest sensitivities to pedestrians and crosswalks. Those drivers stop for anyone waiting on the curb while others expect walkers to wait for a break in traffic. Minnesota statute 169.21 seems to support the later.
While it’s unlawful for any driver to not stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk, the law doesn’t address whether drivers must stop for pedestrians waiting on the curb to cross at intersections with no signal.
So drivers and pedestrians alike flounder in self-righteous confusion. Some drivers honk in disgust at other drivers who don’t stop for curbside waiting walkers, while some walkers wave off a stopped vehicle, preferring a clear roadway before crossing. Without uniformity, there’s hesitancy and angry people.
A pedestrian-activated crossing signal has been suggested for the crosswalk where I nearly met my maker and where dozens of high school kids cross twice a day. Hopefully, that becomes a reality.
And hopefully, some uniform sense of pedestrian-friendly etiquette will emerge either through statute or culture.
Because crossing the street shouldn’t be some death-defying act of heart-pounding heroism!