Yesterday, I wrote about a guy who rode his bike up to a stop light at 6am on a Sunday, and waited more than five minutes, with no cars present, before he hit the walk light and crossed when the light turned green.
I grew up in the Midwest. We were taught to look both ways. We didn’t have flags. We didn’t have lighted pedestrian walkways. The idea of standing and waiting for the light to change when no cars are in sight wasn’t even an idea.
My people would walk through an intersection or across the street when there wasn’t a car within 200 yards in any direction. And somehow… we survived.
My thought is that those I spoke to who said it made sense to them because it’s the law are blindly following the letter of the law without considering the law’s intent.
All of the laws in play here are designed to bring order to a situation that requires it. When you have 50 individuals in trucks, cars, bikes and on foot, all guided by their own personal and unknown agenda, you need a system to make sure everyone gets through in an orderly and safe manner.
But when you’re the only person on a bike, and there’s no car within 200 yards in any direction, you don’t need to wait, and you don’t need to, for no reason, make a car stop because you waited until one was coming to use the light change to cross.
Our laws are designed to control the flow and get everyone through as safely and quickly as possible. When you hit the walk light at 5:30am with no one around and wait while no one is there, then the light finally changes when a car inevitably arrives, you are unnecessarily stopping vehicles and putting yourself in greater danger.
Answer this: Is it safer to cross when there isn’t a car within 200 yards? Or when there are cars within 20 feet of you? Could the very laws protecting you actually be putting you at greater risk?
Look at all of the car/pedestrian injuries in the past year. Could they have happened without a car present? I submit it’s safer to cross when there are no cars than when they’re around.
The common sense guideline for following rules is you follow them if someone, anyone, is affected by your actions. Doesn’t matter if anyone is there or not. It’s why people pick up after their dog, even when no one is around. The crap on the sidewalk or someone’s yard may negatively effect another.
Perhaps this is why people sit in a Starbucks using their wifi without purchasing anything (which is illegal). It’s not as clear cut and black and white as you all wish it to be. Seattle, after all, is mostly grey.