driving lessons

it’s been a while since my last post. i’ve been spending a lot of time walking around corvallis, and there are a few things i think we need to review.

some background: at an impressionable driving age (18), i left southern california for humboldt county in far northern california. humboldt county is a land of redwood trees, fog, rain, and roundabouts. people there tend to be on the far left of several scales, including the polite driving scale. for example, when driving on the highway (that would be 101) and there’s one of those “right lane closed ahead in 1 mile” signs, everyone gets into the left lane as soon as they see the sign. when someone zips down the now-empty right lane and tries to merge in at the very end of the lane, everyone mutters “tourist” – but they still let the car pull in ahead of them. when i’d go back to pasadena for holidays, i’d end up frustrating other drivers because i didn’t turn left the second the light turned green to beat the drivers going the other direction. and i’d get over to the left as soon as i saw the “lane closed ahead” sign. and i’d give the right-of-way to pedestrians. which brings me to my point.

a humboldt self-timer - that's me and hethir and my beloved honda civic.

early in my recovery, the local newspaper dubbed me a “vulnerable pedestrian,” and i’ve certainly been feeling vulnerable the last few months walking around town. i think it’s time that we review some elements of safe and polite driving.

1. look both ways when turning onto a one-way street.

just because the street is one-way doesn’t mean that the sidewalks are too. remember to look the other direction to see if there are any pedestrians coming.

2. stop before the crosswalk.

yep. stop at the crosswalk and then pull forward to check for cars. give pedestrians a chance.

3. please don’t stalk me like i’m your prey.

so you’ve let me cross. no need to inch forward as i make my way across the street. does this get you to where you’re going any sooner? i don’t think so. i know you’re in a hurry, but here’s my suggestion (you can take the woman out of humboldt…) – take a deep breath while you’re waiting. be still. once i’m out from in front of your car, get back on your merry way. it’ll make our moment of overlap more pleasant for both of us.

4. leave early enough so you aren’t stressed by waiting for me to cross.

now i was a hard-core driver for a lot of years, so i empathize with how rushed you feel. but leaving early solves a lot of problems, if you think about it. try to get out your door 5 minutes earlier so that you can err on the side of polite driving. you’ll be in a better mood when you get to wherever you’re going, and so will the other drivers and pedestrians you’ve interacted with along the way. cue the kittens and ponies and rainbows.

5. turn signals aren’t just for other drivers.

i didn’t really understand this until i became a pedestrian. if you don’t use your turn signal, i think you’re going straight. if you aren’t going straight, let me know and everything will go more smoothly.

which brings me to your homework. please work on perfecting the wave-through. now in humboldt county the wave-through can grind an intersection to a halt, everybody waving everybody else through until nobody’s going anywhere. that’s not what i’m asking for. keep the flow of traffic moving. in baseball, a tie goes to the runner, right? so let’s let a tie go to the walker. especially if it’s raining! the other day i was walking through the intersection in the picture above, caught in a torrential downpour (i’m not exaggerating – i lived in humboldt county for a dozen years so i’m no rain wimp). i absolutely had the right-of-way, but a woman stopped her car, looked right at me, and kept right on going. wave ’em through and practice some gratitude for  your warm dry car. take a breath. make up a little story about where that pedestrian is going. i’m sure you can think of something to do for the few seconds it’ll take me to cross.

thanks in advance.

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3 responses to “driving lessons

  1. Thanks Kriste for the reminders. I will work on my behavior. I have a few ideas about how to improve pedestrian safety around campus that I’m going to submit to the Capital Improvement Commission to be considered for the annual update to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Suggestions are due by April 6. Ideas should include Project Location, Description, and Benefit to the Community and can be sent to City of Corvallis; CIP; PO Box 1083; Corvallis, OR 97339. I would be interested in your suggestions.

  2. I was just yesterday asking my friend, What ever happened to Sunday Drivers? It seems The Rush never takes a day off anymore.

  3. Awesome post, Kriste. We all need to remember not to be so insane when we’re behind the wheel of a 1000 pound vehicle. Such a treat to see the old Civic. I loved that car! 🙂

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