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March 30, 2016


As a runner, I'm constantly struck by how little vehicle drivers seem to think of pedestrians and/or bicyclists. It's quite shocking how often cars drive through good old-fashioned white crosswalks while people stand there, waiting for the chance to cross. Those white lines next to most stop signs? Apparently very few people can even see them. And why exercise caution when trying to pull out onto the road from a parking lot? What could possibly go wrong with rolling straight across the sidewalk (and sometimes into the bike lane!) before you stop your car to look at traffic? Gah. I get mad just typing it out.

This attitude towards pedestrians is ingrained not only in design, but in the laws too.

Cars are only required to stop for pedestrians crossing the street if the people step out and make an indication/effort that they will be crossing. If you are standing there waiting to cross a busy street cars don't have to stop for you, which can be tricky in spots on Market Street and stretches of Liberty/Commercial with lots of cars packed close going 35ish.

How do I know this? A mom and her kids were waiting to cross Market St at a marked but not controlled crosswalk near Englewood, as car after car zoomed past with no breaks to attempt to cross. One of the cars that zoomed passed was one of our "great" Salem Police Officers, and the frustrated mom wagged her finger at him, apparently feeling the cop should have stopped but didn't.

Well luckily for her this officer felt that he needed to stop AFTER zipping past them, turn around, come back, hold her up, and lecture her on what the law actually is and how she was rude for wagging her finger at him. Initially the Salem Police Officer didn't have the time or inclination to take a few seconds out of his day to be considerate to allow for pedestrians who obviously wanted to cross, or god forbid possibly try to set a good example to other drivers and be a decent human being. He didn't have time for that, no. BUT the cop did have the time to get his panties in a bunch for being "disrespected' and then go all the way around back to lecture someone about how technically he is right and they are wrong. Mind you this is a mom with 2 kids who just wanted to get across the street. Salem's Finest winning hearts and minds once again.

Salem's shitty attitude to pedestrians/bikers is so endemic -from design to laws to public safety- that I am sadly doubtful it can ever be changed. If you aren't in a car: look both ways, look both ways again, always assume the car will do the dumbest thing possible, assume the car can't see you, cross your fingers, carry a lucky rabbit foot, and only then something bad MAY not happen to you.

I agree. I've watched as many many cars rush past me and my 2 young kids waiting at the new pedestrian crosswalk at 17th and Nebraska for cars to stop. Am I really supposed to have my 4 year old on her bike start crossing before I know for sure that cars driving both directions are going to stop? Even if the cars closest to me do stop, the ones on the other side most certainly don't, so we stop and wait again in the middle of the road. I don't expect someone to slam on the brakes for me, but come on.

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