Pedestrian Rights | Letters | Chicago Reader

Pedestrian Rights 

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To the editors:

Alderman Natarus thinks the great source of carnage on our streets and sidewalks is the conflict between pedestrians and bicyclists/rollerbladers [Neighborhood News, August 14]. Jack Blackfelt points, quite rightly, to the far bloodier conflict between bicyclists and cars. Neither of them seems interested in the bloodiest conflict of all, between pedestrians and cars. The fact is that a car can do a lot more damage to a pedestrian or a bicyclist than a bicyclist or a rollerblader can do to a pedestrian. Furthermore there are a lot more cars out there, per pedestrian, than bicyclists and rollerbladers put together. Natarus, of course, would rather pick on a minority--cyclists and 'bladers--than take on the automobile lobby.

After all, when I walk across an intersection, it isn't cyclists I worry about, it's taxis and other motorized crazies who apparently have never noticed that section in the "Rules of the Road" where it says that pedestrians have the right of way at intersections unless there is a traffic light and the pedestrian is violating it. Let me repeat that, for the benefit of all drivers to whom this is a more exotic and vastly less interesting piece of trivia than the name of Queen Victoria's fourth child: Pedestrians have the right of way at intersections unless there is a traffic light and the pedestrian is violating it. This is true even where there isn't a stop sign. And, take note: where there is a traffic signal, and it is telling the pedestrian to "walk," even if a driver wants to turn the corner into his/her crosswalk, that pedestrian has every right to do exactly what the light says--walk--rather than, say, sprint, jog, scamper, or run like hell, even if that does add a couple of seconds to the driver's trip. So don't honk your horn and zip on through. Nowhere does "Rules of the Road" say that honking the horn before performing an otherwise illegal act makes it legal.

I will worry about bicycle messengers and rollerbladers when I have spent an entire month without being threatened at intersections by automobile drivers. Until then, I will take--and expect my elected representatives to take--the side of the cyclists, who at least are not filling my lungs with gunk while trying to occupy the same streets and sidewalks I have to use.

Marian Henriquez Neudel

S. Kimbark

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