The Woodley Park Jaywalker

I worked at the Cinecave last night as extra staffing due to a couple of film events we were having – and we got slammed at the concession stand, a position I started out dreading and have finally begun to embrace. Because we were over-staffed, and because I was one of the first people of the night in, I got to leave a bit earlier than usual, a treat I fully enjoyed. I Metroed home, and took the escalator out of the Woodley Park station. As I waited for the pedestrian light to change to cross Connecticut, a tall guy in front of my stepped off the curb and crossed the street. Traffic had stopped, but that damn pedestrian light still displayed a red hand.

A police officer was on the other side of the street. I know him by sight but not by name, and he’s frequently in that “downtown” Woodley Park strip along Connecticut between Calvert and Woodley. During the day, when I’m trying to cross as rush hour is gearing up, he’s great about getting into the intersection to ensure that pedestrians can cross safely and without fear of being run over by drivers who’ve failed to understand that the red light means stop and the crosswalk is not a parking place (temporary or otherwise).

Anyway, I am a big fan of the do not invite trouble onto yourself theory, which is this: don’t jaywalk when there’s a cop right across the street and you’re an easy ticket. I don’t actually know if it’s called jaywalking if you’re in a crosswalk but don’t have the light. Whatever it’s called: don’t do it. I stopped in to Manhattan Market for some milk (yum!) and when I came out the officer and the jaywalker (or whatever-you-call-it-er) were talking, but the officer’s ticket pad was in his hand.

Yesterday morning, the DC blogger U Street Girl was involved in an accident: she was walking to the Metro when she was hit by a bicyclist. In her Twitter feed, she adds “and yeah, the accident was totally my fault, I didn’t have the right of way. bicyclist and bystanders were very nice.” A few months ago, DC blogger (and MPD officer) A Girl and Her Bike was involved in a confrontation with an SUV driver while riding home (it has a mostly happy ending?)

I guess what I think we could all use a healthy dose of is this:

1.) We are not <a href="Immortal (it would be cool to have the swords though)
2.) We are not invulnerable
3.) In making DC’s streets and sidewalks safe, we’re all an important part.

I will freely confess that I am a fairly frequent jaywalker. I will then clarify that I am a frequent jaywalker at 6:20 in the morning after I’ve checked and ascertained that there’s no oncoming traffic. Even so. The rules of the road – the crosswalks and the lights and the pedestrians and the bicyclists and the drivers – let’s all just look out for each other, yeah?

I will still, and always have, an absolute desire to scream loudly at those who fail to yield the crosswalk to me when I have the right of way, and to wonder, amazingly, what the average lifespan of some of these cyclists I see is. But there’s a difference between aggressively claiming one’s right of way, and just putting yourself – and others – in harm’s way. Let’s just be careful out there, yeah? Unplug your iPod, raise your eyes, be safe.

2 thoughts on “The Woodley Park Jaywalker

  1. Huh, guess my mother is on to something. Whenever I’ve been in a city with her she flat out refuses to cross the street until the pedestrian sign goes on. It doesn’t matter if everyone else at the crosswalk has already reached the other side, it doesn’t matter if there’s no traffic at all. She WILL NOT cross.

  2. Completely agree – everyone needs to be very careful. And even when you are (I looked both ways before I crossed, the light was about to turn red) you are always at risk of being hurt. After so many years of being a bit brazen with the way I walk as a pedestrian, I’ll definitely be more conscientious from now on, and I hope everyone else will (pedestrian, biker, driver) too.

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