Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Janesville is anything but pedestrian friendly

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Greg Peck
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Two things the past few days reminded me of how unfriendly Janesville drivers are. If we truly want to be a warm and inviting city, this should change.

I worked a night shift last Friday, so my wife, Cheryl, and I decided to have lunch downtown while we made a couple of other stops. I also had to drop a package at the post office inside Olde Towne Mall. That led us to cross Main Street, where a flexible sign in the middle of the road supposedly reminds motorists that state law requires they yield to pedestrians.

“Never mind, we're in too big a hurry.”

That's what two drivers must have thought as they zipped past. Leaving the mall and walking east, we were just stepping into that well-marked crosswalk as a motorist sped by us heading south. We were almost in the center of the street when a northbound car raced by.

“Pedestrian safety,” in other words, is a contradiction in terms. You cross at your own risk in Janesville, state law be damned.

Drivers young and old likewise rocket down Milwaukee Street, ignoring me in the crosswalk at Parker Place almost every time I drive to work. I understand when motorists fear stopping and risking a pileup with inattentive drivers behind them. I've seen it almost happen, and I, too, carefully consider the safety of stopping for a walker in that spot as drivers behind me hurry down the hill. However, I also see older drivers motor past me and wonder how many would expect me to stop if it were them in the crosswalk.

The second thing that reminded me of this problem was a call in today's Gazette Sound Off feature.

“On Tuesday, June 3, just before 1 p.m., I was at the four-way stop at Black Bridge Road and Randall Avenue,” a caller said. “An elderly woman was crossing using a walker. To my surprise, two cars zigzagged around her. A young man got off his bicycle and stopped traffic to let her cross. Kudos to the young man. Shame on those who couldn't wait for her to cross.”

The caller said more, but as the editor of that feature, I cut off the statement at that point. Enough said. Yes, kudos to that young bicyclist. Yet as a close observer of this bad habit in Janesville, I'm not surprised that two motorists zigzagged around the woman with the walker.

Janesville, as I pointed out last fall, stands in stark contrast to what Cheryl and I observed again and again in our two-week trip to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Out there, if motorists see you even approaching a crosswalk, they're likely to stop.

If only motorists in Janesville sent such a welcoming message to fellow residents and visitors alike.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.





Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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