Friday, June 26, 2009

Right of Way

I've been on the reading end of a raging neighborhood forum debate over more crosswalks on Fernside Blvd between High and Blanding.

This is a major thoroughfare in a residential district. By law, the speed limit (posted) is 25MPH. This particular section of Fernside is one lane each way with a 2-way left turn lane down the center. There are many small connecting side streets creating LOTS of intersections and potential areas to cross.

It is true - cars are gunning down Fernside at speeds much higher than 25mph. During rush hour the traffic is pretty impressive. Work on the bridges creates a temporary spike in congestion.

So we have our customary "residents ask for crosswalk, City ignores and stalls, residents ask louder for crosswalk, throw rocks at each other" scenario building over an additional pedestrian crossway midway between Blanding and High at (roughly) Harvard. How much does that paint cost?

The interesting aspect of this debate is the discussion of pedestrian right of way. Now it is true that pedestrians have right of way at all intersections, marked and un-marked. But what is "RIGHT OF WAY" really? The first rule of right-of-way (California Driver's Handbook) is NEVER ASSUME THE RIGHT OF WAY. For intersections and pedestrians, what right-of-way establishes is WHO GETS TO GO FIRST in the event that two entities arrive AT THE SAME TIME. So for example:
  • At a CONTROLLED intersection - a pedestrian would have right-of-way to proceed first THROUGH the intersection, then the motorist would proceed after it is safe
  • In a BIKE LANE - a runner would move to the right to yield right of way to a faster cyclist using the marked bike lane

Does right of way mean that you can simply walk into the intersection unaware of what is either already there, or what is ABOUT to be there? Let's not delude ourselves into believing that a couple of painted lines is going to cause cars to stop. Does it really make sense to claim your right of way in front of some jerk doing 50 in a residential zone? Pedestrians still need to look both ways and be sure you can safely cross the street BEFORE you enter the roadway.

Rule of the road is that CAR is BIGGER and FASTER than UNPROTECTED PEDESTRIAN. USE CAUTION (and some good sense) WHEN ENTERING ROADWAY.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting. Great article.