Sunday, May 31, 2009

It takes more than a few signs

This blog is following the lead of many publications these days, going from a daily to a weekly to a twice-monthly to....well, whenever I can. Thanks to you who look in from time to time to time.

And now, the complaint of the day. Well, it's not really a complaint. It's a suggestion.

It has to do with street crosswalks.

My daughter lives in Western Massachusetts, where failure to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks is likely to get you hard looks (if you're lucky), a ticket (if you're caught, which is quite likely) or pulled out of your car, beaten, hanged and drawn and quartered (an exaggeration, but not as much as you might think.)

There are raised, lighted crosswalks in downtown Amherst and Northampton, crosswalks every few feet on Route 116 in South Hadley, the home of Mount Holyoke College and a serious, serious mindset about obeying the rule: When a pedestrian presents himself or herself at a crosswalk, traffic stops. That's all she wrote.

Now, this isn't a new phenomenon. In Britain, it's been going on for decades. Some Americans just don't cotton to those things. My friend Harold Snyder used to stick out the white cane he carried (yes, he's blind) at crosswalks in Oxford, England, when he heard a car approaching close to the crosswalk, just to hear the screeching of tires (or tyres, as they spell over there.) 

He was talked to more than once by the constabulary, but, being an American, he continued to play the game, saying he had no idea the chaos he was causing. Right.

But, I digress. (If you're new to this blog, I do that a lot. It's part of the charm.)

Back to New Haven. The city fathers are starting to take stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks seriously. Or at least, they are spending money on signs, both those on stands that picture a crosswalk coming up, and the white plastic-looking signs by the crosswalks themselves.

Last week, there was a guy acting like a crossing guard at Fountain and West Prospect streets in Westville, standing in the crosswalk with his arms out, staring at cars that approached the crosswalk too quickly (not me!!!).

Fine. The law says people in the crosswalk have the right of way, unless the crossing is protected by a WALK light. Well, really, even then. Pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks.

So far, so good. 

Sorry, but it's not going to work. Just isn't. Take this to the bank. 

The last statement is not an absolute. It has a big IF...

So, let's take that again. This is not going to work...

IF people don't stop crossing everywhere they darn well please -- everywhere except the crosswalk. 

That means they need to walk to a crosswalk.  You can't have people crossing in the middle of a block, a few yards from a crosswalk, a couple of feet from a crosswalk.

People have to stop being so darn lazy and move to a crosswalk. 

I've been on this jag for a few weeks (Yalies and people who are on Whalley Avenue seem to be the biggest offenders), so I've been keeping watch. 

Folks on Whalley, particularly in the area between Park and West Park (that's about three-quarters of Whalley between Broadway and Westville Village, cross in the middle of the street. They will cross a few feet from the crosswalk. 

Yalies, and other people downtown, are really cute. They'll cross 10 feet from the crosswalk, darting out from behind a car or a bus.  Oh, did I say darting. I meant walking with all the get up and go of a frozen sloth across the street in the middle of the block.

You get what I mean. 

Look, I'm hardly the crossing police. But I don't want to hit anyone. I don't want to hurt anyone. I certainly don't want to listen to some idiot's mother screaming that I hit her kid, and deprived the world of the next Jonas Salk. (Look it up)

So, city fathers, when you trot out this campaign, please trot out the education package with it. Cross at the crosswalk. Every time. Walk the half block or 20 feet, or 2 feet to the crosswalk. 

Believe me, I'll be the first guy to stop and let you saunter across the avenue.

Page 2

This afternoon (May 31, 2009), the Jewish Historical Society had a gala lunch or brunch, launching Volume IX of Jews in New Haven. Please read the piece in the New Haven Independent. 

Dr. David Fischer, an oncology professor at Yale School of Medicine, writer of medical textbooks, teacher of doctors, healer and nice guy, was the editor and wrote many of the articles. OK, I wrote one, too, but still, buy the book. 

It's a wonderful peek into many New Haven institutions and people whose names you will recognize whether you're Jewish or not. It's $25, but mention my name and I'll bet they'll let you have it for $25. 

Page 3

Nobody asked me, but some of you know I do some reporting and writing for the New Haven Independent. 

I've covered some controversial things, some fun things and some BBI things (that's boring but important). 

Don't look for my opinion on those things here. I won't do that. 

I'm from the old school where you didn't mix news and opinion. I guess Fox News won't come looking for me, because I really think people are smart enough to decide what they think on any issue for themselves -- without my help.  Hear that, Limbaugh?

Until next time...

1 comment:

Rev said...

Great story about the Lenders. I learned a lot from it. Thanks for posting the link.