Many pedestrians have been killed and injured trying to cross the Clemens Center Parkway in Elmira, the four-lane, 40-mph road that cuts through the center of the city.
There is not much pedestrians can do when confronted by distracted, careless or intoxicated drivers. We have written extensively about the dangers facing pedestrians in previous blog posts about those incidents. But there is something pedestrians can do that will help them to cross this and other intersections safely.
As spring arrives and the weather warms up, I love to walk from our office to downtown to grab some lunch. A quick walk and some fresh air and sun is a welcome break from the office grind. On these walks, though, I have noticed what I thought was a problem with several crosswalks and especially the crosswalk indicator lights. There are several intersections where the “cross” indicator never came on when the light changed, and the traffic signal was so short that I didn’t have time to cross the intersection before it changed again. This was a huge problem at the intersection of Clemens Center Parkway and Second Street, where the green light for Second Street is very short, and the distance a pedestrian has to travel across Clemens Center Parkway is in the vicinity of 100 feet. I thought that something must be wrong with the intersection lights, and made a note to call the City of Elmira to alert them to this problem.
I consider myself I pretty savvy person, especially when it comes to my personal safety. I have lived and worked and traveled in cities before, and doing what I do for a living makes me extra cautious. But I learned something new the other day from a fellow pedestrian. I watched a woman ahead of me on second street reach the intersection with Clemens Center Parkway and push the big button on the pole near the corner. When the traffic signal changed to green for Second Street, the “cross” light for pedestrians magically illuminated and stayed lit long enough for pedestrians to safely cross the intersection!
Like most people (or is it just me?) I knew the button was there but ignored it, thinking its only purpose was to prompt the traffic light to change more quickly. I usually ignored the button out of sanitary concerns more than anything else.
I had no idea that those buttons cause the pedestrian crossing system to activate and change the timing of the traffic signal light changes to provide enough time for pedestrians to safely cross the intersection!
I HOPE that this was simply my country roots showing and that I am the only person who didn’t know this. If I’m not, please learn from my mistake, press the button, and give yourself enough time to cross that intersection safely!
Thanks for reading,
My book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers; follow the link to order your copy.