Today, when returning home from running a quick errand, I had to brake my car when, not twenty yards in front of me (if that), a woman, after looking both ways, starting crossing the street (and not at an intersection). It seemed she was doing the exact opposite of what we teach kids. If you see a car, we tell them, wait to cross. This woman acted as if her mere gesture of looking indicated that cars should stop for her.
At least she looked.
Several months ago, when driving in my neighborhood, I turned onto my street to see a woman crossing a few yards before the next intersection. I calculated that by the time I reached the place where she was crossing, she would be safely across. Yet, all of a sudden, without looking up, she pulled out her cellphone and started texting — in the middle of the street. Her pace slowed. I had to brake to avoid hitting her.
Another time, a woman, again in the middle of the street (and not at an intersection where she would have had the right of way), emerged from behind a van while walking her dog and looking at her phone. So oblivious was she to the street, she didn’t give any sign of noticing when I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting her.
Given that the van was much higher than she was tall, there was no way a driver could have seen her until she was in the middle of the street. At least with the other two women, I had been able to see them before they crossed into the street.
Today’s experience just got me wondering (and not for the first time): in a city like LA with very aggressive drivers, why do some pedestrians act as if crossing the street were no different from taking a stroll in their own back yards?