Pedestrian crossings don’t leave enough time for elderly folk to cross safely, says a new campaign. Children who are learning to cross roads safely have trouble too – or rather their mothers do.
Of course, what’s supposed to happen by law is that the beeping noise gets you about two-thirds of the way and the car driver waits for you to finish before driving away. In reality this doesn’t happen and no one polices it so the drivers win and pedestrians get honked at. Yet another example of car culture taking over and, I’d argue, buggering up places for everyone else.
I’m having a road safety moment for two reasons. The first is that I’ve started running again and managed to get into a proper routine three times a week. Some of these are in the dark after work and so I run along the ring road as it’s lit and busy into the evening. They are expanding the ring road in places and one of the runner’s friends – the zebra crossing – has been removed and replaced with a pelican crossing – a push button. So no longer can I expect cars to stop as I approach but I have to wait for them – jogging on the spot and losing momentum. A little thing perhaps, but little things are important. As a pedestrian I learn my place – get behind the needs of exhaust-pumping noise-making fuel burning cars with your foot travel.
The second is that E is into transport at the moment. She loves watching buses, lorries, cars, tractors and the like – having many toys of the same. But if we stand on the pavement and watch as a lorry goes past she shrinks into my legs or turns away because she seems scared by it. I’m not sure if it’s the size or the noise or both. Once it’s past she’s ok to watch it again. I can try and reassure her but I feel a fraud. It’s one thing saying “it can’t hurt you” as we stand as a hulking great thing drives past us, but it could hurt her very easily and I don’t want to dismiss her fears which seem sensible to me.
Teaching her to cross roads hasn’t been too bad so far. She is good at holding my hand and I try to hurry her over so she learns not to dawdle. And of course she likes pressing the button at crossings. But we live in an area with no driveways so there are a lot of parked cars to negotiate in order to get anywhere. A recent 20 mph speed limit is not really noticed or enforced and we regularly watch cars race past us on our way to nursery each morning.
I always listened to people talking about how having children changed their driving habits – justifying them buying those ghastly people carriers, or driving more carefully. In my case it seems to have put me off driving altogether.