Friday, August 20, 2010

Did You Ever Wonder Why

Channeling my inner Andy Rooney, (he has been on my mind since I read his unbelievably touching, real, and fascinating account of his experiences as a Stars and Stripes reporter in World War II in My War) I can't help but think every morning "Do you ever wonder why... people cross busy intersections when they do not have a walk signal?"

I'm a true Bostonian which means I rarely wait for a cross light before darting from one side of the street to the next, even in traffic. Every day I take calculated risks and choose to sacrifice safety for time. But, every once in a while, there is an intersection that is just too busy and too dangerous to cross while there is traffic. One of those scary crosswalks just happens to be on my walk from the train to work.

At this one particular intersection there are many streets, people, and cars that merge together. Atlantic Avenue, Summer Street, 93 Surface Road, a detour for the Mass Pike, a couple of side streets, the Commuter Rail, Bus Station and the T all come together on one street corner outside of South Station. Every single morning, without fail, this part of Boston is a mob scene. Cars are trying to beat the lights while hordes of people pile out of South Station spilling over the sidewalk onto the street. Everyone meets in the exact same spot that politicians are shaking hands, newspaper hawkers are yelling out headlines, and pan handlers are asking for change. Basically, it is Samantha's Personal Hell. Armed with my ipod and the promise of coffee, I put my head down and push through the crowd.

In order to get to Dunkins, I have to cross the aforementioned major intersection. The pattern is easy: walkers have the right of way first, then the far lane of cars get their turn, followed by the near lane of cars. The entire cycle can not take more than 2 minutes. EVERY DAY a handful of people walk out in front of the near lane of traffic while the far lane drives, hoping to sneak across when the light changes. EVERY DAY the second light changes and cars in the near lane come flying through the intersection nearly missing pedestrians as they weave through the craziest corner in Boston.

This begs the question, what are these pedestrians thinking? These people are commuters. They make the same walk 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. How have they not learned? The near lane gets its light AFTER the far lane. And these cars are flying off of a winding exit lane with an obstructed view of the road from the highway. You will get hit.

Fortunately, I have not seen anyone get hit. However, I still make my patented Samantha 'are you kidding me?' face at these daredevil pedestrians. What are they thinking?!?!

To answer Mr. Rooney: Yes, I often wonder why...

1 comment:

  1. As a Washingtonian, I'm still amazed at how easy it is to cross a typical street in the Boston area. In DC, we all have bullseye's on our backs. This summer I was in Andover, MA and there was crosswalk in the middle of the block on Main Street with no light. I was really perplexed as to what to do. I was stunned to watch a woman simply step off the curb and all the cars stopped. Never would I have imagined that I could do this. I can imagine that those who are used to crossing streets in Boston face incredible danger when visiting other cities where running down pedestrians seems to be a sport!