I just saw some guy walking two beautiful golden retrievers down Witherspoon Street in Princeton, New Jersey. He crossed the street without really looking where he was going, then nearly collided with a car turning into the intersection. I repeat for the nth time that if American crosswalks were designed like the crosswalks of Barcelona, none of this would ever have happened. But they aren’t, and no one ever listens to my pro-Barcelona urban planning rants anyway.*
Though the driver was already through the turn, Dog-Man (as I’ll call him) yelled at him to stop. Driver-Man belatedly saw him, slowed down a bit to look at the wildly gesticulating crazy man in the street a few feet from his car, but clearly perceiving Dog-Man as crazy, decided not to stop. I would estimate that Driver-Man was going in excess of 3 mph at the time.
At this juncture, Dog-Man decided to throw a public fit that I regrettably neglected to capture on my Smartphone. He banged on the car, calling the occupants “assholes” several times as they drove away. I’m guessing that the passenger was held guilty by association in this connection. I might be imagining this, but the dogs seemed vaguely embarrassed by their so-called owner’s behavior.
Viewing this scene from Mt. Olympus as I did, I was sorely tempted to tell Dog-Man that if you’re going to have a public tantrum about something, make sure that the law is on your side. Because I’m afraid that in this case, it wasn’t. As per New Jersey Revised Statutes 39:4-36:
(2) No pedestrian shall leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield or stop.
But he did, and it was.
(5)…Nothing contained herein shall relieve a pedestrian from using due care for his safety.
But he didn’t.
I came really, really close to explaining all this straight to Dog-Man’s face (I know, it sounds like something Joe Biden would say). But I decided to have a nice plate of ful mudammas instead, and blog it.
*In case someone is listening: In Barcelona, the crosswalks are set several yards–or rather, meters–after the intersection, and there’s a compulsory stop just before them. This allows cars to complete the turn without having to stop in the middle of the intersection, while also letting pedestrians cross safely without snarling traffic at the intersection. It’s a simple, obvious solution to a common urban problem, but Barcelona is the only place I’ve seen it adopted.