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Cross at green, not in between

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

Cross at green, not in between

There used to be a public service commercial on television, many years ago, which urged people to “cross at the green, not in between.” It referred, of course, to an anti-jaywalking campaign.

That’s what we need in this area.

I almost hit a couple of people the other day. It was semi-dark early in the morning, and I was headed west on Silver Springs Boulevard approaching the downtown area. To the left of me was a big tank truck.

We approached an intersection where our light was green, which meant that the “don’t walk” sign was activated for people crossing the boulevard.

Two people evidently came from the center island and rushed across the left lane to beat the truck, but then slowed down as they got into the right lane. It was obvious they didn’t see me, though I had my headlights on, as I do each morning.

I had to slam on my brakes. Fortunately, the speed limit in that area is 30 mph, and that’s about what I was doing. The people suddenly lunged toward the sidewalk, and I was able to pass by them without incident.

The thought occurred to me as I continued my drive: Would I have been charged in the accident?

The law says you have to yield to people in crosswalks. That’s where these people were, but they were jaywalking, violating the law themselves, and were totally invisible until I was on top of them.

So here’s what I’d like to see: a crackdown on people who jaywalk. I consider these people as much of a hazard as those who run red lights, maybe even moreso, because they usually appear out of nowhere. Handing out a few citations to these people who are too impatient to wait a couple of minutes for a green light might cut down on the problem.

The city of Gainesville, I understand, has gone the other way, charging drivers who fail to yield to those crossing the street, even when they are crossing in the middle of the block. There was even talk of police decoys stepping off the curb and, if the car doesn’t stop, another officer pulls them over.

It sounds silly, but then again, it’s Gainesville city government, so what do you expect?

I come back to the old question I have used when government lowers speed limits or puts in “roundabouts” to slow traffic. I ask, “What is the purpose of roads?”

The purpose of roads is to move traffic. Period. Spots have been designated for people to cross the road, and that’s fine, but the main purpose is to get vehicles from Point A to Point B. To me, when government interferes with this process, I think it oversteps its bounds.

But no matter what the law, there is a better reason not to jaywalk. As another old commercial said, “the life you save may be your own.”

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.