Keep To The Left Please. Mind Your Step, Keep To The Left.
While Manly Council is considering erecting signs along our beachfront asking people to stick to the right side of their path, or should that be the left, it’s time we addressed some signage for pedestrian crossings. And I’m not talking about the red ones screaming Children STOP Crossing brandished by the lollipop people.
I’m suggesting a sign which says: Warning! Lollipop People ABout. Cars should Not Expect To Cross Any Time Soon Because Children Do Not Have To Look, They Just Have To Follow The Sign. And The Sign Has Right Of Way At All Times.
Ok, so maybe it’s a bit long, but you get my drift.
Now I know every community has a favourite lollipop person, a kind retiree who smiles at the children and charms the mothers, and you probably think this is a bit like being cruel to fluffy bunnies, but can someone explain to me what message they are giving our kids? Because it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a child, or anyone for that matter, look before they step off the kerb onto a zebra crossing. I know of one local lollipop man who is as warm as apple pie, as snug as a bunny rug and as charming as your grandpa, but boy does he use the power of the sign! Instead of teaching the children to wait until the majority of cars go through, teaching them when it’s safe to cross, he marches out, holds up his power stick, and no matter how many cars are approaching, not matter if it’s for just one child, he stops the traffic.
Now, before you start howling me down, and accusing me of being anti-pedestrian, think about it. One day your children will have to cross a pedestrian crossing alone without a lollipop person stopping the traffic for them. Are you sure they will look before they step out? I suspect not, because they’re too used to stepping right off the kerb onto the white lines without a cursory glance in any direction.
Rule 81 of Road Rules 2008 states: “A driver approaching a pedestrian crossing must drive at a speed at which the driver can, if necessary, stop safely before the crossing” and “a driver must give way to any pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing”.
The clue here lies in the word ‘on”. It’s not “about to be on” the pedestrian crossing, or “nearly on”.
But according to the pedestrian handbook of unwritten rules, it’s permissible to: “Run the 3m dash in the rain from the shelter onto the crossing without look”, or “stride across with attitude if armed with a pram, no looking nor hesitation necessary” and last but not least, “never, never interrupt your mobile phone conversation, nor your iPod listening enjoyment, with so much as a glance to the left or right before you step off the kerb”.
So while we consider signs telling us which side of the pavement we can stroll along, let’s get back to some safety basics. Let’s teach our kids, and anyone else for that matter, that cars are bigger than us and thy hurt, so, Watch Out For Them At All Times!