Friday, October 19, 2012

Hail! Hail to the bottle!

To the Gentleman I made eye contact with while walking through the bank parking lot this evening,

I highly suspect you know what I saw - you quickly headed toward the exit of the parking lot soon after you noticed me looking you. I think somewhere in your head, you know what you were doing wasn't quite right. I mean, I totally understand that it's Friday evening, the main part of the work week is over. You looked like you were heading home from the office, still dressed in a button up shirt and tie. But you were already in weekend mode on the inside, taking swigs of beer from an unmistakable Newcastle Ale bottle only moments before you drove off.

As an adult living in the U.S., you have a right to drink alcohol. Drink a little every day. Drink until you pass out every night. Drink on the weekends. Drink to kill yourself tonight with alcohol poisoning. Drink until you kill yourself slowly by destroying your liver first. I really don't care what you do - not that I would choose some of those methods of death. I know firsthand that some aren't so great, but I do have lines where I feel fully justified in having an opinion.

Notice all those deaths... they were all for yourself. If you want to, you can kill yourself with alcohol. You don't have the right to kill anyone else though. Not your wife or ex-wife. Not your children. Not your parents. Not your grandchildren. Luckily no one else appeared to be in the car with you tonight, but you also have no right to kill anyone else that might be on the road that might simply be trying to get home tonight to enjoy their weekend.

I suspect you have a problem with alcohol though. Most people don't find a need to drink a beer in their car while driving the evening & with good reason, it's illegal in the U.S. When I pulled out my phone to take a photo of your license plates, I realized you didn't have any on your tan Toyota Highlander SUV, which was pretty convenient. It felt useless to call the police and mention there was a guy in a tan SUV driving around North Hollywood or maybe even was already on the freeway, drinking beer during Friday rushhour. As a pedestrian, there was no way I was going to keep an eye on your car for long. I hope in time you can get help or at least get some control over your drinking before that bottle causes too many problems for yourself or the others in your life. Hopefully it's not too late.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

crosswalk dodging

Nothing really makes the experience of walking in a crosswalk as stressful as almost getting hit by a car. Last night while walking near my home, I encountered the crosswalk below, on Ventura Blvd. I waited for my pedestrian crossing signal and began to cross. I was the only pedestrian crossing and there was a single car that had a green signal (coming from the upper left lane in the photo.) As I was walking across one lane and about to cross the second, I noticed the single car turning left, almost directly into me. I stopped, confused about what was happening. The driver suddenly noticed me when she reached the crosswalk, a few feet from me. She was young and had a car full of passengers. She waved quickly, swerved around me and continued her left turn as I stood in the street. I was somewhat stunned and confused about what just happened as I finished crossing the street.

I don't know what happened. The crosswalk is at a weird angle. Maybe this makes seeing pedestrians more difficult. When I took the photo above a few months ago, you can see that although it is a marked crosswalk, most of the marking is long gone. Last night I was wearing dark colors with a lighter colored sweater and I was carrying a white bag and my skin wasn't completely covered. I waited for the signal to indicate it was time for pedestrians to cross and I was already in the crosswalk when the woman began driving almost directly into me. I had 3M reflective tape on my person.

What should I have done differently? I sometimes wonder if I should take more inspiration from Burning Man and walk around with colorful lights on myself at all times. I suppose I should start wearing more reflective items on my person as well. I try to make eye contact with drivers, but in this sort of situation, making eye contact is difficult. Otherwise I can only ask that when driving, please pay attention and watch for pedestrians and other vulnerable parties on the streets. Unfortunately, despite situations like this one being technically illegal (pedestrians have a right of way in California), the nearby police were up the street, dealing with other issues. Most of the time, unless someone is actually hit and injured, nothing really is officially acknowledged, and even then, there's rarely someone around that was watching and paying attention the whole time.

Intersection: Ventura and Campo de Cahuenga
Walkscore:  78
Transportation Nearby: Red Line (.3 miles away), bus stop (0.0 miles away), Hollywood Bowl Park & Ride (.1 miles away)
Walkability impressions: never many pedestrians around unless there is an event going on, graffiti at nearby bus stop, crosswalk forces user to walk diagonally (not the shortest path), might need more light or permit pedestrian only crossing at some point, not much shade, shelter present at nearby bus stop, 4-way intersection with car right turn-yield branch & pedestrian crosswalks at 3 of the 4 intersection with stripped crosswalk at yield sign, pedestrian-only island present