While we watch the flowers bloom each spring, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians are emerging on our streets. After winter “hibernation,” their sudden increased presence can take unwary motorists by surprise. Pedestrians, especially, are plentiful and vulnerable.
As groups and individuals, children and adults in the form of walkers, joggers, and stroller-pushers are now out sharing the streets with motorists. A few readers, aware of this situation, have offered their thoughts on the topic.
I have previously written of the sometimes strained relationship of bicycle riders and automobile drivers. Similarly, some of the same aggravation arises between runners and drivers. I have heard stories from joggers, akin to tales from bike riders, saying how some drivers seem to be “out to get them.”
Reader P.B. expressed a counterpoint, writing, “My pet peeve is the jogger who is running on the side of the road when there is a perfectly clear sidewalk right beside them. This is not a driving problem but a jogging problem. However it makes me swerve towards the center of the road or the oncoming lane. I try to give the jogger extra space in case they should fall into the traffic lane.”
So, P.B. is a bit peeved about joggers in the street, but is at least wary and gives them space. Some drivers may not be as attentive, however, so joggers should understand the attitudes of those drivers and protect their own safety by choosing where they run wisely.
Also, joggers and other pedestrians can be distracted just like drivers are. A reader once told a story of a texting bicyclist running into the back of her car.
Reader V.D. recommends, “While I as a driver realize that I have to be aware of pedestrians, I would really appreciate it if pedestrians would be aware of the fact that drivers have a reaction time, and that if you step out in front of us in a parking area without looking, perhaps pushing your baby buggy in front of you, we drivers need time to stop. People on their cell phones, people stepping out from between parked cars, older people (and I am one of those, although I try to always look both ways), and even the helpers from supermarkets, walk out as though there are absolutely no cars in the neighborhood. Please be aware of traffic when you are a pedestrian.”
Most drivers have room for improvement too, as told by L.S., “One of my pet peeves is the driver that overruns the stop line and/or stop sign. We have a particularly bad intersection for that in Sandpoint. It is common in other places, also. The stopped vehicle is usually sitting on a crosswalk, but the attitude seems to be ‘Who cares I don’t’.”
Also, please note that there is an implied crosswalk at every intersection even though painted markings may be lacking. Additionally, while it is illegal to “jaywalk” in the middle of the road between intersections, it is still the responsibility of vehicle drivers, who are the bigger threat, to avoid collisions with pedestrians wherever they appear.
Whether it is interaction with other cars and trucks, bicycles, motorcycles or pedestrians, all participants must respect the rights of others to use the roads, and for safety’s sake, learn to accommodate them even when those rights are abused.
Let’s have a safe spring and summer!
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at email@example.com.