by Max Brantley
I'm an ardent supporter of the law that says vehicles should yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. I was happy to see the city's aggressive new effort to remind motorists of this with median signs on Kavanaugh in the Heights.
I also know that it is foolhardy to presume that drivers in Arkansas will get the picture. Just the other day, I saw a fellow newspaper writer attempting to exercise his right of way in the boldly painted crosswalk at Kavanaugh and Cedar. His venturing into the walk seemed to produce no discernible decceleration, much less stops, by Kavanaugh traffic.
Another trouble spot is the crosswalk from riverside parking across La Harpe Boulevard to the back side of City Hall. I confess that I often blow through the crosswalk even though city employees might be walking near the crosswalk. The speed of traffic on that section is fearsome. And most employees seem to not expect the right of way there, given the speedway.
This morning, it happened. I was in the right lane. A car just ahead in the left lane slowed and stopped at the crosswalk so that waiting people could cross. His law-abiding was not rewarded. An SUV following close behind at warp speed couldn't stop in time and smashed into the law-abiding car's rear with a huge smack. I had been preparing to stop, too. Again, I confess, I did not. The traffic approaching me in my rear view mirror was moving too fast. I feared a similar reaction to my full stop. And, by then, the waiting pedestrians had already jumped back in fright from the collision. I drove on through unscathed.
If that crosswalk is going to work for pedestrians, it needs warning lights and a big zebra-style crosswalk, like the sort you see in England. And a better advance warning.