Run Don't Walk
City Council orders study of crosswalks that allow pedestrians to negotiate the mean streets of Seaside.
Thursday, May 16, 2002
It''s as if they''re trying to tell you something, something like "don''t bother walking." If you happen to be in Seaside and you need to cross Fremont at Broadway, those famously dictatorial signs that read "WALK" or "DON''T WALK" only offer one option: "DON''T WALK."
A minute after pushing the pedestrian cross button, a walker watching the sign will see it go from "DON''T WALK" to blank. It just turns black. That lasts for a few seconds then the sign begins blinking rapidly "DON''T WALK." If you''re a reasonably mobile adult you can make it across Fremont in the nick of time. Someone slow out of the gate or a hesitant, deliberate oldster will barely get to the curb before cars lurch forward again.
According to the Seaside Police Department, there have been 31 automobiles-versus-pedestrian accidents on Fremont from 1990 to 2001. In the same time there were 11 on Broadway and three on Del Monte.
The Seaside city council has taken note of the pedestrian-unfriendly street layout and has directed the public works department to analyze the problem.
Out at Fremont and Broadway this week, cars heavily outnumber pedestrians, as usual. But a steady stream of people still have to cross the street to get to the store or to the bus stop. Some, usually younger men, don''t bother with crosswalks but jay-sprint where it''s convenient. Others make it to the narrow median, walk down it a ways, then bolt across the second half of the road.
Clifford Shick, a large, roundish man in shorts, sandals and a leather cowboy hat sits at a Fremont bus stop smoking a cigarette, waiting for the Number 9 bus to Monterey. He says he often has to cross Fremont to get to the drugstore down near his house, and today he had to cross from the doctor''s office. He says it''s dangerous.
"As far as crosswalks are concerned, I''ve found a lot of people are inconsiderate," he says. "Lots of times, they just keep driving."
Shick says he thinks it may be a problem-maybe a cultural problem-that people don''t understand traffic rules. He says that if someone is crossing the street in the crosswalk, the driver has to stop the car no matter what.
"What if someone changed their mind and decided to go back?" he asks. "There''d be a collision."