Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


November 22, 2012

Squirrels at the crosswalk: Common sense needed

I’ve noticed that Andover pedestrians are crossing Andover crosswalks like squirrels.

Now, I am well aware that pedestrians have full legal right to step directly in front of an approaching car if their foot falls inside of our town’s well-marked crosswalks. However, before placing that foot within those lines, the pedestrian might use a modicum of common sense.

Common sense would be to look both ways. Common sense would be to make eye contact with the driver, because, it’s true, drivers are more often than not, scrolling through their iPods, scrolling through their contact lists, texting (despite all those roadside digital messages and laws that urge them not to,) looking at their next bite of Big Mac. Or they might be looking at the road, but lost in the wireless daze of cell-phone conversation that impairs the ability to think, hear, see, and oh, yes – drive.

Finally, common sense means timing. Timing is fundamental to street-crossing safety, even for those who are neither musical nor coordinated. Much like squirrels, we rely upon it when it comes to the “walk or wait” decision. Should I step in front of that moving car…now, or now? Or should I wait? Waiting is the one thing squirrels might be better off doing a little more of, but the inability of some squirrels to figure this out is forgivable. Not so with humans.

Recently, I witnessed a rear-ender at the crosswalk near Bertucci Minucci restaurant. Here’s how it went: A Mercedes was about an inch distance from rolling slowly over the first crosswalk demarcation line, when a man stepped off the curb. Of course the Mercedes driver, not of a mind to injure the man (or maybe his fancy car) hit the brakes instead, which caused the van, following close behind, to bump into the Mercedes’ rear.

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