Is crosswalk etiquette dead or did it ever exist?

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This is our city, Belmont California; and this is our office, Carlmont Associates. Here we are smack dab in the middle of Belmont on the corner of Ralston Ave. and Villa–obviously a big enough intersection to get Google’s attention.

The cross walk you see here is the topic of today’s rant. You see the city installed an illuminated cross walk—you know the ones with the flashing yellow lights imbedded into the street—to assist pedestrians in crossing the road. Well not really to help them get across, but to help them get there more safely by making it easier for them to be noticed.

Clearly in order to get to my office I play the role of both a driver and pedestrian. First, in defense of the drivers, it’s really hard to see people when you are staring into the sunset. Spin this interactive camera around and you’ll see what we mean. It’s much easier to see the lights flashing in the road than to see a pedestrian standing off to one side—especially when they are often obscured by opposing traffic.

Don’t get me wrong–I think these lights are a great idea. Especially since my night vision isn’t what it used to be. But pedestrians take advantage of the "It’s the Law" rule that one must stop for them in a crosswalk. When I’m the pedestrian (which I often am getting to and from our office), before I leap out into the crosswalk and stop traffic like Moses parting the Red Sea, as a common courtesy, I stop to see if the light at the corner of Ralston and Alameda is red or green. If it’s green, I’ll wait patiently and let the cars make the green light and only when it turns yellow will I press the power button to halt all traffic in deference to my presence. Do I have to do this? Of course not. The law is on the side of the pedestrian. Is it the courteous thing to do—of course.

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