Sunday, May 10, 2009

TON Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (Draft) -- Pedestrian Stings

There is a recommendation on page 133 of the Normal Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (Draft) (NBPMP-D) that Normal conduct “pedestrian stings.” A pedestrian sting occurs when plainclothes police officers or volunteers try to cross a street at a crosswalk in the middle of the block. If motorists don’t stop for the pedestrian, they are ticketed by a second police officer. It is suggested that Normal have at least three of these stings each year in places with lots of pedestrians crossing streets, such as uptown, near elementary schools, and near ISU. The goal is to encourage drivers to yield to pedestrians because they know that these stings are happening.

I know I wouldn’t want to be one of the volunteers because some motorists aren’t going to stop (maybe volunteers sign a waiver acknowledging the danger). They mention in the description of the stings that the “decoys” (volunteers) might be “notable community members” such as the Mayor or business leaders. Given the critical comments made about the Mayor and other notables before the last election, I would worry about their safety in doing this!!

I’m always glad to stop for a pedestrian who is clearly about to step out into a crosswalk, but those pedestrians who stand on the corner or at the edge of the crosswalk and don’t move really annoy me. Are they going to cross or not? If I’ve stopped and they still don’t start across, is it ok for me to continue? And what if I’ve stopped but drivers coming from the other direction aren’t stopping? Should I continue to just sit there?

So, to all of you “decoys,” please make it clear that you are going to cross the street. Same goes for all of you “real” street-crossers. (And please don’t choose to stand on a corner while you talk on the cellphone.) Thanks. Sting away!

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