Concern v. Outrage: Campus Crosswalks

Students wait at a busy crosswalk at Lindsey and Asp on the OU campus.

Students wait at a busy crosswalk at Lindsey and Asp on the OU campus. Photo by Melanie Wilderman

→ I’m a very cautious driver. As my sister lovingly puts it, I drive like someone’s grandma’s grandma. (But the joke is on her, because guess which one of us has never had a speeding ticket? That’s right, it’s Grandma.) I’m probably an equally cautious pedestrian, which makes sense to me seeing as how normally when you pit the soft, soft flesh of a human body against any vehicle traveling over 5 mph, we all know the likely victor.

So, I am frequently somewhere between concerned and outraged on a daily basis watching people’s crosswalk habits in Norman, Oklahoma, particularly on the OU campus and surrounding area.

I have categorized the types of pedestrians and cyclists who frequently engage in death-defying or simply stupid acts while getting to class or to work (and rate them accordingly with either concern or outrage).↓

→The saunterer. This person walks the same speed no matter the time left on the crosswalk countdown, and that speed is turtle in a field of wild flowers on a lazy Sunday afternoon. (Rating: Concern. I worry for these dreamers enjoying the weather or the song coming from their ear buds, but they don’t mean any ill will.)

→The hostile saunterer: Similar to the saunterer, but there is a look of defiance on the face, daring a driver to bump into them. This type usually starts crossing with one second left, and just takes their sweet ass time. The sense of entitlement is nearly visible. (Rating: Outrage! To quote Seinfeld’s  George Costanza, “We are living in a society here!” And you are not more important than anyone else, nor is your time more valuable.)

→The dare devil. Often a jogger or cyclist who I assume needs a death scare at least once a day to stay happy and keep those endorphins flowing. These people might weave in and out of the hoard, jet through at the last second or jump the curb. Skateboarders are often among this group. (Rating: Concern and Outrage. I’m concerned you have little concern for your bodily safety, but outraged at the lack of concern you show to others’ bodily safety sometimes.)

→The crosswalk adjacent. The other title I might give this group is simply lazy. There is a crosswalk in near view, but they cannot be bothered to walk the few extra steps to actually cross at the crosswalk. Instead, they make their own crosswalks where ever it suits them. Often the crosswalk adjacent pedestrian is also a hostile saunterer, making for the perfect combination to induce my rage. (Rating: Outrage! Clearly.)

→The texter. Self explanatory. This group summons up thoughts of “survival of the fittest” as I wonder who can’t wait five seconds to cross the busy street before sending that text about . . . Does it really matter what it’s about? It’s probably inane. Let’s all admit, the majority of our texts are inane. (Rating: Outrage. Can we just all agree there are times to put down the phone? I’ll confess I have run into a door once and also an outdoor trashcan once while texting and walking, but I manage to at least glance away from the screen when walking through traffic.)

→The indecisive. Should I go? Should I not? Jump into the crosswalk. Jump back out of the crosswalk. Here’s the deal. If you have the little blinky light person, probably go unless an irresponsible driver is barreling toward you. If you don’t have the blinky light person or a few seconds left on the countdown, don’t go! (Rating: Concern. This is not one of life’s difficult decisions, and I worry for you if this is a hard one.)

Now in all seriousness, while I mostly use my blog as a forum for my sass mouth, I also have genuine concern about the safety and well being of OU students and others on campus. In 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,743 pedestrians and 726 bikers were killed in auto-related accidents. Not all of these happened in crosswalks or on college campuses, but this number seems high when you think about it being related to something as simple as crossing a street.

I generally follow the rules. This may make me boring to some folks, but I’m OK with getting mocked for walking a few feet down the sidewalk to cross in the proper place. I’m OK with my siblings teasing me about my “granny” driving.

And I’m also super OK with no broken bones from being run over in the street and extra money to buy shoes from all the speeding tickets I don’t get. #winning

What do you think about these categories? Do you fit in one of them? Do you have another to suggest? Leave it in the comments, or tweet it to me at @MelG_Wild.

Four pair of shoes I was able to buy due to money I didn't spend on speeding tickets.

Four pair of shoes I was able to buy due to money I didn’t spend on speeding tickets.

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