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Steve Mullen: Adventures in street-crossing

 

Steve Mullen

 

I don''t have a crystal ball, but I know where I may very well die one day: In the intersection of College Street and Fifth Street South. 

 

Columbus is the Friendly City, but it could be more pedestrian-friendly. If you believe I sound biased, you''re right. I''d rather not die in this or any other intersection. 

 

I live downtown and have the benefit of being able to walk to work each morning. I''ve seen all makes and models of drivers and driving infractions, sometimes up close.  

 

Many drivers stop at the red light, and if turning right on red, look both ways before doing so. Some don''t.  

 

The latest most egregious event happened last week, when a driver in pickup truck sailed through the College Street red light, turning right on Fifth Street. He never saw me about to step into the street. I''ve had countless similar adventures at the intersection. 

 

I don''t expect less. We''d rather drive. (When it''s me behind the wheel, my story is different. Get out of the way, dumb pedestrian. Why are you on foot? Get a car.) 

 

I realize that besides my sorry butt, there are few pedestrians downtown, and there''s little evidence that we welcome them. In this particular intersection, the paint marking the crosswalks is faded. While there are electric walk/don''t walk signs, some of them don''t appear to have worked since Thomas Edison installed them personally back around 1890. 

 

I''m a realist. I know the dangers, and have learned to accommodate our less-accommodating drivers. Still, near-death experiences give you pause. 

 

Often, after narrowly avoiding a maiming at the hands of a distracted driver -- and remembering it''s safer to jaywalk than cross a city intersection -- I recall a conversation I recently had with a Columbus police officer on crime in the city. 

 

His point was, even if we had 100 more police officers on the street, which we will never have, we can''t stop someone intent on murder. Luckily, we have few of those types of people. 

 

My point was, we can stop people who run red lights. We have lots of those types of people. That''s the cornerstone of community policing: Enforce the small things, before they turn into large things. Show we take pride in this community. Show we sweat the small stuff. 

 

Speeding. Littering. Loitering. Underage drinking. Running red lights and stop signs. Amid all the talk about "taking back the streets," that''s where you start. 

 

 

 

101 Things 

 

We haven''t gotten to 101 yet, but readers are sending in their favorite things to do in the Golden Triangle and beyond, and we''d love to have yours. 

 

We''ll publish the list of 101 Things to Do in our upcoming FYI magazine. We''re looking for the obvious things, and the hidden gems that only locals or Mississippi natives might be aware of. 

 

E-mail your ideas to 101things@cdispatch.com.

 

Steve Mullen is Managing Editor of The Dispatch.

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment patty commented at 6/26/2010 7:51:00 PM:

You are so right Steve - the problem lies, I think, with the law that says a pedestrian has "right of way at a corner". Much safer to cross between the corners where you only have to watch traffic coming from the right and left. I really detest being told by a little sign that I may not walk when there is not a car in sight, and that it's time to walk when ole Fred is hurtling toward the corner. I wish we had NO RIGHT TURN ON RED at all intersections. That would make for easy enforcement! Stay safe out there - watch out for Fred and all his crazy cohorts!

 

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