Dance with The Red Man

17 01 2015

So in Canada it’s a red hand/white man. I think in the UK (it’s been a while) it was a red man/green man.

Different countries have different motifs but the general message is (as per The Boomtown Rats’ “Rat-trap”) “walk”/”don’t walk”. Despite the clear markings people STILL cross when there’s a definite sign suggesting they might consider the contrary. Vancouver I find to be particularly dangerous because pedestrians often treat “green light for cars” as “white man for pedestrians”. It’s true there’s a lot of overlap, so it’s USUALLY coincident, but there are exceptions. There can be a green filter light for left turns for cars, and most definitely NOT a white man, for example. People arriving at an intersection when a green light is already in effect, and no white man (due to no pedestrians pressing the button) will often march into the road unabashed. Usually this is OK, but at the end of a cycle there can be cars patiently waiting to turn left at a busy intersection, and given the changing lights will often feel the need to get out of the intersection now the on-coming cars are stopping. To suddenly find a pedestrian in the way can often not end well. Either the pedestrian gets flattened or the car screeches to a halt and gets T-boned.

Perhaps then, finding ways to make the red man more entertaining would help delay pedestrians until it was properly safe to cross…

All that said, I was once hit by a car at a light-controlled crossing in the UK and given a free ride for 50 yards down the Keighley Road in Bradford on a car’s bonnet. The car simply sailed through a red light (and me). So I’m not suggesting that following the proper rules is guaranteed to lead to a totally injury free crossing experience.

EDIT: The black and white paving patterns and chic styling had this down as Portuguese (or possibly Brazilian by extension), and sure enough it turns out it was filmed in Lisbon.

Death and all his friends

18 11 2013

So we live in a pretty nice crescent – totally residential, and with parks both inside and outside the crescent. There is a crossing to allow easy pedestrian access from the inner park to the outer one, crossing what should be a sedate residential street. The crossing is well marked with good visibility and signing, leaving nobody in any doubt to its presence… especially if you are local, as indeed 99% of car drivers taking the route would be. Unfortunately though, it is used as a bit of a “cut-through” as I have come to learn “short cuts” are known in these parts. This means that a large percentage of even local drivers speed around the crescent safe in the knowledge that the road network exists for their usage alone. I have observed that this is especially true as the driver matures and gains those oaky undertones. You know – the ones that help mask the incontinence and heavy smoking.

So today I took the dog for a walk and made use of said crossing. A man in his late 60’s screeched to a halt (at least that part of my story is positive) mere inches away from me as I made the crossing.

“What the hell are you doing crossing right now?” he yelled through his open window – apparently in all seriousness. Plainly my appearance on this crossing – clearly marked and signed, you’ll recall – was not anticipated.

I made the universally understood, puzzled “WTF?” expression, outstretched my arms to illustrate the clearly marked crossing I was on, and said “It’s a pedestrian crossing!” Suddenly unsure whether this possibly English term would be fully understood, I added “, you dork!” to illustrate I was not totally culturally insensitive.

“Well get a move on and get out of the way!” he yelled.

Suddenly struck with indecision as to whether to continue or turn back, I turned to face his people-carrier, stroked my chin, looked to the sky and said “I’m not so sure any more…”

At this point he made a wide turn to pass me on the other side of the road, at which point “Wanker!” seemed the only appropriate adieu on my part…

I was hit by a car on a light-controlled crossing (PELICAN they were called in those days) when I was about 15. Taken for an unplanned ride on a car bonnet for about 50m. Luckily I suffered no physical injuries. It has however made me particularly gnarly to deal with if you don’t respect the pedestrian crossings that I use in later life. I have yet to go as far as an old work colleague who actually stoved in a car bonnet when someone barely missed them at a crossing.

But it’s always an option…