Crossing guard concerns
I was a guest at a City Council post-agenda meeting yesterday on traffic calming. Only a handful of council people showed, but there were many others around the table including Al Biehler (ex-secretary of PennDOT, now executive director of Traffic21 at CMU), Pat Hassett from DPW, Cmdr Schubert from the traffic division, a traffic enforcement officer and a crossing guard.
This crossing guard started things off with a bang saying that all the time bicyclists nearly run over the kids she’s trying to cross safely and that cyclists by far were the number one problem on the streets. She even proposed licensing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but if you are one of the bike riders not stopping for kids riding the street, stop it. If you see this type of behavior, please say something to the cyclist if you can.
Crossing guards should be on our team. This was terrible PR for us.
That’s interesting. I stopped for a crossing guard this morning before she even stepped off the curb. The car behind me? Sailed right through the intersection when the guard was already halfway across the street with the stop sign out.
Yeah, that’s not cool. But I’m not sure how licensing will solve that problem. Drivers are licensed and…well…you know.
She works two intersections one at Ellsworth and Filmore I believe, and Beechwood near Blue Slide Park. I had a hard time memorizing because my brain was being taken up with exactly how I was going to respond to her.
Whether or not licensing or registration would help, or is really practical, stuff like this annoys me, too. I mean, they’re little kids. Even if you’re not going to seriously injure or kill a kid the way a car could, you could easily hurt or frighten them. No one’s time is so important that we can’t let a kid get across a street safely.
I take Beechwood all the time, from the top of Browns Hill to Aylesboro. I see a few crossing guards along that way. The guard at Beechwood & Monitor (four-way Stop) and I usually say good morning to each other. Sometimes if there’s no traffic, she’ll wave me through the intersection.
I also see a guard at Beechwood & Forward/Commercial. She’s usually pretty quiet. I say hello, but I don’t think I usually get a response. That intersection has a traffic light and is pretty busy from all directions. I don’t recall seeing any cyclists blowing through the light at that intersection.
There’s also a guard at Beechwood & Philips (traffic light). The school is also right there on the corner, so it’s pretty busy/congested, and there are usually quite a few people crossing in any direction. I’ve never seen a cyclist buzz that light, either.
So maybe the guard in question isn’t on that route, or maybe she just doesn’t like cyclists.
I think this is an instance where the bike community needs to police ourselves. Bikes really can be a threat to pedestrians – even adults.
This issue isn’t just perception.
I view the complaints about bikes crusing through red lights, say, as perception, they are rarely a risk. There is a real risk with bike riders not paying attention to pedestrians.
Bike-Pgh can help with education. Let riders really know they have a responsibility to repect pedestrian rights.
That being said, I’m guessing – and I could be very wrong here – that the crossing guard in question could be just another “roads-are-for-CARS!” type that is using her position as a megaphone.
“Abuse of power comes no surprise.” -Jenny Holzer
Sorry, that was completely false. Her colleague works the Beechwood location. This crossing guard is on Ellsworth and Filmore and Friendship @ ??? I need to watch the City Channel to recall
if someone says bicyclists are the “number one problem on the streets”, i stop listening to them.
but, just to join in the cacophony of condemnations, blazing through while school children are crossing the street, especially with a crossing guard, is simply unacceptable.
I encounter a crossing guard often on Carson, every time the light is red I stop and *every time* I am stopped she thanks me. First few times she asked me why I did it and from then on out she has thanked me. She has indicated that people often come really close to those she is guarding for.
Maybe, just to put a positive outlook on what the crossing guard said, she meant that bicycles are the number one problem for crossing guards, not that they are strictly the number one problem.
Man, that sucks. I haven’t seen this sort of behavior, and I will definitely say something to anyone I see that does.
On a sidenote, I actually had a very nice interaction with a crossing guard today while I was stopped @ Butler & 43rd. She even gave me a slight head start up the hill when the light changed.
The crossing guard at 46th and Butler is pretty cool also. I like headstarts up 46th.
We could join the lady for a week and then give chase to cyclists who blow through her and then talk to them
So it sounds to me like what we need to do is befriend a crossing guard or two, and offer to stand next to her/him for a while on a couple of days, and if we see another cyclist do something stupid, chase him/her down and do some educating.
^love this idea–white-hat vigilantes!
I think that a large number of crossing guards have a decent relationship with most cyclists around here. Hopefully this is just one rare bitter person.
@Pierce: what if the cyclists stop at the walk, but are wearing headphones or halfway in the middle of texting? Worthy of giving chase for a talking to?
But seriously, I would hope that cyclists would identify more with the vulnerability of pedestrians, especially children, and not buzz them or do anything dangerous. I have limited interaction with crossing guards because my commute is not during the hours kids are going to/coming from school. Though I did see a nice crossing guard recently at Hampton and Negley stop traffic on Negley for a cyclist to cross and continue on Hampton. Sadly that is a 4 way stop with crosswalks and should not need any crossing guard to tell motorists to not roll stop signs…
Guard’s call. Part of what we’re doing is to get some idiot cyclists to wise up. The other part is P.R. on the part of crossing guards.
I would like to think that when we are at a corner with crossing guards, we would be on our best behavior. To me, that means two solidly planted feet at a stop sign, whether there are kids there or not.
I would like to know if the crossing guards are impressed or don’t know how much skill it takes.
there are a number of crossing guards that I interact with regularly that seem to be pretty keen on cyclists, I don’t think this would be the case if they were such terrors.
She’s probably just on the other team.
Texting yes, headphones no. Although people that text and bike are usually going pretty slow, so they’re easy to catch. Don’t know if you’ve seen this article going around:
As a headphone wearer, it would be futile to try and give chase to myself
I’m also not sure what angle you’re coming from. Are you saying that this isn’t a big deal or that we should also chase after other cyclists or that we should chase after motorists texting?
When I see somebody crossing the street, depending where they’re at, I stop for them to cross in a protective manner, so some other motorist doesn’t mow them down. I’m trying to bring back the idea that pedestrians have the right of way and shouldn’t have to stand around waiting for all the cars to be clear.
Likewise, when a crossing guard is crossing the street, I stop because a) it draws attention to other motorists that there’s something happening and b) why the heck not? I do the same thing for school buses
Good point, Pierce. Bikes would have to stop for school buses with the lights flashing, just like any other vehicle. Who wouldn’t? Frankly, I hadn’t thought about it; I just assumed everyone did. False assumption?
I’ve stopped for a schoolbus, gotten off my bike and pushed it past the bus to start again.
I have to give credit to Colin. I said basically the same thing but he said it funnier and I typed it.
@stfb That is kinda rude…
I’m a rude kinda guy.
The bus driver gavbe me the stink eye for it.
@Pierce: “Texting yes, headphones no.”
PA 75 says § 3314. Prohibiting use of hearing impairment devices.
(a) General rule.–No driver shall operate a vehicle while
wearing or using one or more headphones or earphones.
If you’re acting as traffic cops or hallway monitors or narcs or whatever you want to call it in order to make cyclists look good for the city crossing guards, a cyclist bombing a stop sign or texting or wearing headphones is breaking the law regarding piloting a vehicle in PA in each case, and you should give chase.
In my own experience, wearing headphones while cycling in the city drastically reduces my ability to be aware of everything that is happening around me, so I don’t do it.
Out in the middle of nowhere on a sunday ride? Ok, one in the non-traffic side of the head.
Commuting in the city at any time with one or two headphones? Foolish.
I don’t care about the article that’s going around. It’s an opinion piece based on 2 hours of collected data. Did you read the original article that the blog points to? There’s nothing to take away from it other than that riding while jamming to “Lust ForLife” at 87dB was safe on St Kilda Road, Melbourne Australia for two hours of a sample. No historical data…just some random anecdote. If that’s all it takes to make you feel confident and secure enough to ride with headphones — good luck.
If what this crossing guard said is true then they should station a cop with her to chase down and ticket the cyclists doing it. Sorry, but proposing we do that ourselves is ridiculous.
The idea of chasing other people down and giving them a good talking to about the rules is not going to win many friends and probably won’t make anyone very compliant. They will probably think you’re as rude as you think they are.
Changing attitudes is hard. I guess that’s why we have a different cycling related letter to the editor or article in the PG every week from one perspective or the other.
Aggressive cyclists are hard to change too, especially people who have been riding since before there were on-street markings and accommodations for cyclists.
New cyclists need to know what the rules are and why they should follow them. There’s no exam to ride a bike, there is no safety test, which means there is a very low barrier to entry. They need to be engaged in a way that relates to them.
Drivers who are unfamiliar with cyclists need to be educated similarly as to how to drive around cyclists safely, what to do when making a right turn on a street with a bike lane, and what the expectations of both parties are. This can’t be done by chasing people down on the street. It’s just not that easy.
Agreed, Benzo- changing attitudes is difficult, especially when there is an ingrained one already. I struggle with that and recycling- most people understand not to litter, but don’t make the leap to recycle instead of just trashing everything. I suppose we can just make sure to compliment people when they do the right thing.
I encourage all cyclists to give pedestrians, be they children or adults, an absolute right away.
I’m not sure why Mr Buffalo took his article out – looks like a fine on-topic thing to me
It warms my heart that 3 people were ticketed for using a cell phone, YEAH! Three vehicles were impounded “due to the driver being unlicensed or driving with a suspended license” – which is an indication that most problem drivers are repeat offenders. The drivers should have been imprisoned, too, IMO.
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