By Ina and Mike Levin
Our Heights walking over the past couple of years has led us to this column where we want to consider safety. As you may have read, road rage has increased during the pandemic. While the articles we’ve read have dealt with altercations between drivers, we noticed the same increase in our experiences with drivers while walking. We don’t want to discourage you from walking our beautiful area, but we do want you to be diligent about protecting yourself. Here are some of our recommendations.
Don’t assume that if you are crossing at a corner (even if crosswalks are marked) that you are safe from being hit by a car. Gone are the days, and we remember them fondly, where drivers felt compelled to give pedestrians the right of way. We used to joke that when drivers ran a crosswalk, they must have been recent Eastern transplants from New York City or Boston. Now every driver, whether California natives or new arrivals, is suspect.
Do assume that the driver feels he has the right-of-way. Wait until you know they have seen you and are slowing down before crossing. Even when you know there’s a stop sign at the corner, wait to make sure the driver isn’t prepared to beat you across the intersection. Just today, we saw a car run a stop sign and tear through a roundabout as we were about to cross. And about those roundabouts. Please use the crosswalks rather than taking a short cut. The crosswalks are marked so that drivers will have time to see you.
If you’re walking at sunset, be extra careful with cars travelling west. The sun is blinding and, while most drivers would stop for a pedestrian, they might not be able to see you—especially if their mind is focused on getting home after a hard day at work. More than once we have been given a high-sign or a look of “I’m sorry” after a driver has made us jump back on the curb.
Watch out for bicyclists! Bikers (no, not all of them) are notorious for feeling they are the only ones on the road. Many run stop signs and frequently play “chicken” with pedestrians.
Again, we don’t want to discourage you from walking. We’ve lived in the Heights for 20 years, literally walking thousands of miles through our streets without damage. But we’d be disingenuous to say there haven’t been close calls. By all means walk! Just be aware, be wise, and be careful.