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Look both ways... - Mark's Journal
mhaithaca
mhaithaca
Look both ways...
Did you know the Cornell Police have tried a couple of times over the last several years to be more proactive about enforcing pedestrian safety and traffic laws, but gave up because it annoyed people?

Did you know the Cornell junior who died after being struck by a bus on a rainy March evening nine years ago had the right of way, but wouldn't have died that night had she simply looked before stepping off the curb? Lots of other factors contributed to that accident, including the overcrowded bus and the driver apparently drinking before his shift, but the fact remains that the all-too-common student pedestrians who step into the roadway without looking are taking their lives into their own hands.

I'm writing about this tragic and needless death for publication next week, and it's not easy. I hate to blame the victim of what was clearly a random confluence of unfortunate factors as well as negligence on the part of the driver, but the student who looks before crossing the street isn't going to need the "She had the right of way" epitaph on her tombstone.
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Comments
fabunobo From: fabunobo Date: February 26th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not to make light of tragedy, but EVERY pedestrian has the right of way. If I step in front of a car on Route 34 going 55 mph, I have the right of way as a pedestrian. This right does not make me "smart."
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: February 26th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's absolutely untrue, and this gross misconception is one of the tragedies of the failure of CUPD (not to mention IPD and other agencies outside the area) to enforce traffic laws on pedestrians. Pedestrians simply do not have a universal right of way, and acting as if they did is a big part of the safety problem.
marc_breaker From: marc_breaker Date: February 26th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wrong!

New York State Law says:


§1152. Crossing at other than crosswalks.

(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(c) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices; and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.


Copied from http://www.nysgtsc.state.ny.us/peds-vt.htm

Marc
fabunobo From: fabunobo Date: February 26th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I stand corrected! Let's MOW the little frakers DOWN!
kaitl From: kaitl Date: February 26th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a friend at Cornell who got hit by a car crossing East Ave after a band dress rehearsal. I don't know the details, but if she hadn't been carrying her French horn, she would've been hurt much worse (as it was she was in bed for a month or something). She seems like the type who would've looked both ways, but I have no idea.

The thing that drives me crazy is when pedestrians are on their cell phones and just plunge right into the street. Ugh. Our bus system here has an ad campaign that's: Look Up, Live Up! (or something like that) in an attempt to keep their drivers from having to dealing with hitting a pedestrian who just blindly walked into the road.

On the other hand, it would be really nice if cars stopped for pedestrians when they're standing waiting to cross at a cross walk. There are several crosswalks on campus here that drivers just blatantly ignore... so it could take a minute or more to get a break in the traffic to cross. Really irks me.
ruffian_wind From: ruffian_wind Date: February 26th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pedestrians who don't look and are on cell phones are THE WORST. I can't tell you how many I've come close to hitting. They just step into the road and bike lanes without looking, and yet if I hit them, it's my fault. Fortunately, I have learned to anticipate stupidity...and there's WAY too much of it on this campus!
kaitl From: kaitl Date: February 27th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)
PS The police here actually ticket pedestrians for jay-walking... this started after someone was hit and killed.
ruffian_wind From: ruffian_wind Date: February 26th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the Cornell Police have to try harder, even if it annoys people. I can't tell you how many people walk right in front of me (in the car AND on the bike) without looking and NOT in proper crosswalks. It's extremely tragic that people have to die. Pedestrians have to be educated on the rules, and so do motorists who ignore the "pedestrians have the right of way signs." Both sets have equal responsibility for vigilance.

hojo1690 From: hojo1690 Date: February 26th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I saw one of our young immortals nearly killed a few years ago. He just walked across a crosswalk without looking, as the oncoming car was ATTEMPTING to stop. Due to slippery conditions, and a young driver, the car was unable. It slid into the intersection. The student in the crosswalk managed to stop his body, barely, and was leaning over the hood by the time he broke his own momentum. His cup of coffee, on the other hand, didn't manage to stop. It was dumped, steaming onto the hood of the car.

I think one thing, as a driver, that gets me annoyed with the pedestrians is when they form a conga line, block the crosswalk for really rude amounts of time, as they just tailgate each other through the intersection. This can go one for quite a while, if a few buses are disgorging near the intersection. I've literally been stuck at East Ave and Campus road for three busloads of people, who just formed a line and crossed without letting any cars get through.

My rule of thumb has always been that the one (car or person) who gets to the crosswalk first, should go next. I've BEEN in the conga line a few times, and even if >I< stop, inevitably, the people behind me just walk around me, and continue to block the intersection. How rude!
phoenixmedusa From: phoenixmedusa Date: February 26th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember when that tragedy happened and I thought right away "I wonder if she even looked up" I have experienced it over and over at Cornell and in Ithaca...people who walk into the street without even looking. I am very very careful in my car when I am coming up on a crosswalk because of that. I dont trust that they are going to look and if they are even close to the street at all I stop and let them go.
pixel39 From: pixel39 Date: February 26th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was my first thought as well. I remember watching the hordes of idiots just blithely stepping out in front of buses on rainy days, either not noticing at all or trusting that the bus was going to stop in time and thinking that eventually somebody was going to fail their saving throw on that one.
belindashort From: belindashort Date: February 27th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Around here they will walk across a crosswalk during a green light in heavy traffic downtown. It happened just tonight. They couldn't understand why I was making a distressed face. I didn't expect people to be slowly crossing the road during a green light.
bodhranplayer From: bodhranplayer Date: February 26th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Add professors and staff to students, and I agree whole heartedly!

I know a Cornell Police Officer who hit a student .. when the cop was on his way to a call .. with lights and sirens even.

He had to stop because a group of kids stepped out in front of him. When they had all crossed, he stepped on the gas to get to his call. One of the students stepped back into the road at that moment, for an unknown reason.

New manditory class for all incoming Cornell Students: Common Sense 101 (or Common Sense Isn't Common Anymore!). Lesson One - Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Road.
ruffian_wind From: ruffian_wind Date: February 26th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
New manditory class for all incoming Cornell Students: Common Sense 101 (or Common Sense Isn't Common Anymore!). Lesson One - Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Road.

A-freaking-MEN.
chesther From: chesther Date: February 26th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just this morning, at the 5 corners near work, I uttered the line "y'know, it's a good idea to at least make eye contact with the person who's in a position to run you over" as someone walked out in front of me.

Granted, she was crossing at the corner with the light, and she did, in fact, have the right of way and I wasn't about to run her down. I had plenty of time and warning. But still. It would have been nice if she'd at least looked to see if anyone was coming.

I guess when I'm on foot I am simply too paranoid to step into the road without looking, whether I think I have the right of way or not.
ruhe From: ruhe Date: February 26th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I gotta just say this: I run. Lots. Many of the times when I run, I run on the sidewalk on the right side of the street because that's where I need to be/where the sidewalk is. At every intersection I get to, I check left, right, in front, and glance to the left (behind) and PRAY that no idiot is going to accelerate into a sudden right hand turn (which they sometimes do). I wear little blinky lights, cross in the crosswalk and do the whole song and dance - and even then I feel at risk. Drivers are kind of crazy too.
bcampbell From: bcampbell Date: February 26th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, maybe I'm missing something because I never read the original article or anything, but let me see. She had the right of way, walked in the road, and got hit by a bus and died.

Now this is an assumption but I'm assuming that because she' you know, died, she wasn't really able to tell the police "nah, I didn't look both ways" when they filed the report.

So, how do we know she didn't look?
moxiegirl23 From: moxiegirl23 Date: February 26th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a crossing guard and I would love to read the article if you could throw a copy or a link my way.

After being a crossing guard for the last 3 months, I'm seriously thinking that the gene pool needs a cleaning and a good disinfecting sterilization.
rustmon From: rustmon Date: February 26th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder when looking both ways was taken off the menu.

I just want people to take safety into their OWN hands, instead of always blaming someone else.
selkibean From: selkibean Date: February 27th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Very often my friends gently tease me as to my obsessive cross-walk behavior. I had a close friend get hit by a car in college. She lived, fortunately, and since she had the right of way was able to collect an impressive sum of money.

As a pedestrian, I can get frustrated by the lack of maturity and reason used by many drivers. Last night, for example, I had the right of way, and was halfway across state street while some lovely person decided to take an immediate right turn, cutting right inf ront of me, causing me to stop in the middle of the road, and giving me an obnoxious grin.

Unfortunately, what it comes down to, is the fact that right or wrong, pedestrians can't assume people are just going to stop for them. Especially when alcohol is involved. In areas such as collegetown @ Cornell, one cannot check enough. Cause right or wrong, chances are the walker will have a much more serious plight than the driver. Simple law of physics. Yes, I like to use my right of way while at a cross walk, but only if I have an extremely safe road to cross on.

sylrayj From: sylrayj Date: February 27th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I teach my kids that it doesn't matter what the lights say - they (and I) are a lot smaller than a car. Which one is going to win in a collision? Always always look at the cars around when you're standing at a corner waiting to cross. Know what the first three cars waiting for their turn to move are signaling, and more if possible. Look to see if someone is inching forward, projecting the intention to race as soon as they can. And be aware that no matter what, you have to be ready to just get out of the way - it's easier for a human to stop than a heavy vehicle. Looking all directions is good, listening is essential, and you still have to double and triple check. It only takes one mistake to end a life.
helianthas From: helianthas Date: February 27th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
holy cow i can't believe that was 9 years ago.
I feel old. :/
mrliburyin From: mrliburyin Date: February 27th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I visited Toronto, they had crosswalks for pedestrians all over the city. It seemed to me that everyone, drivers and pedestrians, acted as if they expected cars to slow down at intersections so that pedestrians could walk into the street without looking. Part of it seemed to have to do with their extensive trolley system which ran in the street in the same lane as cars and would pick up and drop of passengers in the middle of the street, forcing everyone to walk across half a street to board or after they disembarked. I am somewhat amazed that I didn't run over someone before I figured out the rules. But I am more amazed at what a difference everyone's approach was to driving. It was a completely different attitude.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 10th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

she didn't look?

"wouldn't have died that night had she simply looked before stepping off the curb"

with respect, what is the source of the assertion that she didn't look? did the police report contain witness statements that she just walked into the road without looking or were you there? was it part of the suit brought against cornell for hiring someone with a drinking problem to drive a bus? i don't recall "she didn't look" appearing anywhere in the ithaca journal articles on the matter.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: March 10th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: she didn't look?

If you like, we can allow for the possibility that she was suicidal and knowingly stepped in front of a bus, but there was no indication of that.
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