I’ve been on a mission, lately, to stop for every pedestrian I see trying to cross the road. It’s easy when I’m the only one around, but I’m a little more reluctant when there are cars behind me and I worry that:
- the car might not stop when I do and I’ll get squished, or
- the car might not stop when I do, might go around me, and the pedestrian might get squished.
Neither one is a lovely option.
So I’ve sucked it up. Now when I see a pedestrian, I’ve got a new strategy:
- full-on take the lane, get right in the middle where a car would have to actually change into the other lane to pass me,
- signal a stop, and
- wait for the pedestrian to cross as I hold up traffic in the middle of the lane, just as though I were a car.
Not only does taking the lane make me more visible to a driver, but it also makes it more likely that they will stop when I do, since trying to squeeze by me becomes impossible. And the stop signal at least makes me feel like my intent is clear, regardless of how the person behind me takes it.
Downtown, of course, is where I run into (heh–figuratively) the highest number of pedestrians, and it’s also where it’s super feasible to take and stay in the lane, since bikes go basically the same speed as car traffic. Tonight, as I was making my way home from the zoo, I did my take-the-lane-stop-the-car-behind-me ritual for two men waiting to cross.
I always smile and say “go ahead,” since when you’re biking you can actually talk to the people around you. So I did, and one of the guys flashed back this super awesome smile as he crossed.
“This is the best city ever!” he said. And I had to agree:)