The street in front of the building where I work is one-way which should make it safer, or at least easier, for pedestrians, but it’s really a crossing nightmare. I always look both ways before crossing which is just a good habit any time you cross any street but there’s also the occasional driver who will get confused and end up driving the wrong way. Or there’s the occasional delivery truck with a driver who’s too lazy to circle around the very small block and who barrels the wrong way down the street.
There have been a lot of efforts to make crossing the street safer. There have been crossing guards posted there, but only during special events because the cost and trouble of having a person there all the time is just too prohibitive. And most drivers and pedestrians seem to be smart about how they handle it, although I’ve seen a few cars accelerate when they see pedestrians in the crosswalk, and I’ve seen a few pedestrians step right off the sidewalk without looking to see if there’s any traffic coming. All of which tends to undermine my faith in humanity.
Another safety method that’s been added to try and protect pedestrians is the poles in the road. In Britain those are called bollards, although “bollard” to me sounds like a past-tense verb a delivery driver might use, as in “I really bollard through that intersection.”
There used to be six poles. Now there are three and three stubs. Drivers drove right over three of the poles, knocking them down. That probably did some damage to their cars and hopefully there were no pedestrians around at the time.
I’ve crossed that street more times than I can count and have never had a problem until the other day when I tripped over one of the stubs. It was the one right next to the sidewalk. I let out a stream of curses and it took me a minute to get up. Later I’d find I’d skinned one of my knees, through my jeans, and my elbow, tearing my shirt. At least it was close to the end of the day. And an approaching car stopped while I got up. A young woman who’d just crossed the street ahead of me turned and came back to make sure I was all right and could get up.
The sudden kindness of strangers in that intersection did a little bit to restore my faith in humanity.