I have two words for anyone using a crosswalk: Be careful.
Do not think, because you are walking within the white stripes at an intersection, you are safe. You are not.
Let me give you a few examples.
I cross, every morning, coming and going, at the corner of Kuhio Highway and Niu Street on my way to run a few miles on Ke Ala Hele Makalae. There is no light at this crosswalk. So, I am sure to stand patiently, waiting for drivers to notice me, and stop. Most do. Most are courteous and friendly and will even wave at me to go.
Some drivers, however, are impatient, careless and don’t care if someone is in a crosswalk. Many drivers are a huge hurry to go nowhere. I’ve had some folks stare straight ahead and pretend they don’t see anyone waiting to cross. Others will look right at me, and keep driving. Some have literally passed within a few feet of me, standing in a crosswalk, waiting to go.
Tuesday, was something new.
A southbound driver saw me at the corner and stopped, and there was no traffic coming the other direction, so I started to cross. A driver behind the car that stopped, though, apparently didn’t see me or thought the driver was going to take a left turn. He whipped his SUV around the car and gunned it ahead, tires squealing. The only problem, there I was in the crosswalk. He stopped, abruptly, and looked quite annoyed, as I crossed.
Last week, I started to cross after a southbound car passed me, when I saw a red convertible zipping northbound, a block away. I thought, I’m OK, the driver will stop, plenty of time to see me. Then, I had a second thought. Good thing. The driver showed no signs of slowing. Halfway across, I stopped, took a step back, and the convertible flew past, two people chatting happily, oblivious to anything around them and I got the impression they would have gladly plowed straight over anyone or anything in their path.
So, again, while most drivers are courteous and careful, others are the opposite, and those are the ones you must watch out for.
That said, WalkWise Hawaii visited our office earlier this year. As part of their program and to earn some flashing lights, I read, outloud, their “Pedestrian Pledge.”
“I pledge, as a good pedestrian, to always look left, to always look right, to always look left again, and continue looking while crossing the street.”
WalkWise also offered these “Seven Steps to Safety.”
w Always cross the street at a crosswalk. When no crosswalk is available, please cross at a corner.
w Be vigilant. Always look left-right-left and continue to look while cross the street.
w Do not enter the crosswalk if the light indicator is counting down. The countdown is for pedestrians already in the cross walk.
w Always walk when crossing the street. Never run.
w Always wear bright or reflective clothing when walking between dusk and dawn.
w Always watch for vehicles backing out of driveways or parking stalls. Drivers don’t always see you.
w If there is no sidewalk, always walk on the side of the roadway facing on-coming traffic.
WalkWise reports that the number one reason for pedestrian accidents and fatalities is inattentive behavior for both drivers and walkers, so always, always pay attention while driving or walking.
According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2017.
Pay attention, be patient, and stay safe.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at email@example.com.