Posted September 14, 2016 by The Argonaut in Columns
Traffic/Pedestrian Etiquette Needed

While dropping off some materials at the Montana Branch library, I heard honking and a pedestrian challenging the honking driver with “Can I walk in the crosswalk?” I turned around and saw the pedestrian was a man alongside a woman and baby stroller crossing south from the northwest corner of 17th Street and Montana Avenue, which has a traffic signal.

The honking driver had gone north up 17th and was now trying to turn west on Montana. The walkers had time left on that digital countdown, so it seemed like they had the right-of-way — although judging by how quickly the light turned to red, and how anxious the car waiting to turn left over the crosswalk was, they might have stepped off the curb with just a few seconds on that digital countdown display.

The driver responded to the guy challenging her by yelling, “YOU need to watch out for US,” then she swerved in a huff across the crosswalk.

The driver’s frustration made me think that this is an ongoing tension. I also once made a driver mad while I was walking across Montana Avenue. I was crossing in a crosswalk at a corner that did not have a light. I had my eye on one of the approaching vehicles and started to cross because I saw a gap in traffic. But one car wasn’t slowing down.

When he finally stopped it was right in front of the crosswalk. He made a face that I understood was meant to show how clueless I was being, and then he pantomimed me walking with abandon across the street by walking his fingers across the dashboard and bobbing his head back-and-forth.

When I got to the curb, one woman was laughing and said “You were in a crosswalk!” Another person shook their head like the man was in the wrong.

I do see pedestrians being inconsiderate sometimes — maybe walking slowly or texting while they’re crossing, but I was trying to be considerate by waiting for a gap and walking quickly.

Maybe we could all use a reminder about not only the laws governing crosswalks, but also the etiquette at them too. With alternatives to cars being promoted more all the time, these kinds of interactions are bound to be more frequent.

Vanessa Finney
Santa Monica


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