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The proper way to walk across the street
Dear Street Smarts, Q: What is the proper way to cross the street? I have been crossing the street on my own since I was a young girl and I never have any problems. Yet, I see grown adults who don't seem to have the technique down especially when crossing a busy four-lane street like Mission Street. This is how I do it: Always using the crosswalk, I stay on the sidewalk as close to the street as possible looking very alert and ready to making eye contact with oncoming traffic. When the first lane of cars stop, I begin in the crosswalk raising my hand and gesturing a thank you with a slight smile, and then do the same for the second lane until they stop -- which is always right away. Then and only then do I turn my attention to the third lane, which is coming from the opposite direction, followed by the fourth. What I see many people doing drives me nuts. They stand on the sidewalk, not even looking at the oncoming traffic, so people do not even know whether they are waiting to cross. Then, when they are so lucky to have the first two lanes stop for them, they turn to look at lanes three and four coming from the opposite direction and don't even step one foot in the road until all lanes have stopped. It seems to cause a lot if confusion and seems risky and dangerous as the drivers who have already stopped in the first two lanes become confused and may begin to continue driving just as the pedestrian finally steps out on to the road. Bethany Kientzel, Santa Cruz A: “Your reader has the right technique,” said Debbie Bulger of Mission Pedestrian, a Santa-Cruz-based pedestrian safety and advocacy organization. “The California Vehicle Code states that the pedestrian should not unnecessarily delay traffic. She is smart to make sure both lanes going in the same direction have stopped to avoid what traffic engineers call, 'double threat,' the circumstance where the driver in the curb lane stops and the driver in the second doesn't.” Vehicle code section 21950 also provides that pedestrians must take due care for their own safety when crossing streets. As soon as motorists see pedestrians waiting to cross, Bulger suggests they start to slow down so the pedestrian can begin crossing. “When (drivers) don't brake until the last minute, they only delay themselves as the pedestrian is not sure it is safe to begin walking,” she said. Bulger encouraged pedestrians to “clearly signal to drivers that they intend to cross the street. They can signal with eye contact, a friendly wave, or other motion.” Bike to Work/School Day Thursday is the 12th annual Bike to Work/School Day offering from Ecology Action. Thousands of children and adults countywide are expected to pedal to one of many free breakfast sites set up around the county on their way to their destinations. New this year, all participants will be entered to win a free Zipcar membership. Street Smarts reminds cyclists to follow all rules of the road; wear bright, reflective clothing so they can be seen and use a bike light if they plan to be riding after dark. For motorists, please drive cautiously around cyclists, allow extra space when passing and do not cut them off when making turns. For more information about Bike to Work/School Day, visit www.bike2work.com.
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