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Pedestrians have the right-of-way

July 9, 2010 - Jane Whitmore

The bottom line is:?pedestrians have the right-of-way in the crosswalk.
Pedestrian traffic was a topic of conversation during the Downtown Assessment and also at Emmetsburg City Council.
Emmetsburg businesses are located along Main and Broadway (Highways 4 and 18) which creates a challenge for pedestrians. Car and truck traffic is heavy enough that many pedestrians do not feel safe crossing the street.
We have heard that in some cities, when a pedestrian takes one step off the curb, oncoming traffic stops. That’s not the case in Emmetsburg. Cars and trucks keep on rolling.
I try to stop for pedestrians because I appreciate when cars stop when I’m walking. One morning, I stopped to let a pedestrian walk across the street and the person looked and seemed to question whether or not to proceed.
Another time, I was waiting to cross the street and an oncoming car stopped for me. With a wave of thanks, I started to cross and noticed another car coming in the next lane. It looked as though that car was not going to stop, so I did. Perhaps that driver realized that the car next to him had stopped to let me proceed and then he, too, stopped. If that sounds complicated, it was...and crossing the street should not be complicated.
Emmetsburg City council was informed that an elderly man in the crosswalk stopped in the middle of the street because none of the cars stopped for him.
Pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right-of-way. Clear identification of the crosswalks was one of the complaints. Whose responsibility is it to paint the crosswalks??The city paints the crosswalks and the work has been scheduled. Cleanup after the storm has taken precedence, but we have been assured the painting will be completed.
The Downtown Assessment team commented on the number of people walking on residential streets. This lead them to notice a lack of sidewalks in the residential area. No doubt sidewalks will be addressed in their final report, along with safe routes to schools.
When you are walking, time yourself as you cross either Main or Broadway. It may take as much as half a minute, depending on age and ability, to cross the street. Now look at your speed as you approach the stoplight. Are you traveling 25 mph? It’s doubtful.
Pedestrians need to be aware of traffic. And drivers need to be aware of people walking and obey the law. To be a friendly downtown business district, shoppers need to feel safe as they cross the street.
The bottom line is:?pedestrians have the right-of-way in the crosswalk.                                           --Jane Whitmore


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