Getting places on foot as a “death wish” on New Jersey streets

Truths that every serious Pedestrian knows . . .

As promised, let’s get to parsing these out. Today, I want to talk about the several different “kinds of crosses” that a pedestrian makes in a crosswalk.

Now, this may only be understood by people who walk a lot, so you driver-seat-bound people, just read along.

If you ask me, the pedestrian crossings where a car is nearby, can be broken out into four categories. These are graded, frankly, by danger.

Category One – The By-the-Book Yield. This is supposed to be the only interaction between pedestrian and car. As the state law makes clear, [cite here], the driver is supposed to yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian in the crosswalk until [quote here].

There is still risk present in that situation. A driver who is not part of the skit, so to speak, can rear-end the yielding driver and send the yielding car into you. The driver may change their mind (converting to category three or four, below).

But generally, this is a safe situation.

Category Two – The Obvious Aggressor. This is the case, where the driver is going to do something illegal — not yield to you. And thankfully, quite often they make this very very clear. (A revving engine, a menacing glare, etc.) While this behavior is patently illegal and such drivers should be eliminated from our roadways, the incident and context is put in terms of “driver courtesy”, and not assault. (If someone did that to you with a baseball bat, it would be an assault, but with a ton-plus car, it’s just “discourtesy”. Another little fluke in the laws of Car Kingdom.)

My advice to anyone who gets into such a situation as a pedestrian (knowing you have the right, but having it made really clear that someone is going to steal that from you, and possibly more!) is: TRY NOT TO BE RIGHT, DEAD RIGHT!

Sure, you’ll have had the right to cross there. And as they chalk out the crosswalk and the blathering idiot who creamed you is crying about “didn’t see” and all that, the investigators will say, that legally, you had the right. And indeed you were right. Dead right.

Category Three – The Veiled Aggressor. Here’s where it gets dangerous. There are also motorists out there, who for incompetence, thrill, or a mix of both, will not let you know that they are about to put your life in danger. (The cell-phone driver would likely fit into this category as well.)

The best example of this, is what I call the “ZPA 7 Left”. (You might call it the white trash left, if you want to be blunt.)

In a “ZPA 7” left, what happens is you are midway through the crosswalk, and a car is coming down straight in the opposite direction. Then, as you are almost midway through the intersection, it suddenly veers left into the crosswalk. This much is important: you are given just enough time to get out of the way.

Is it terrifying? Sure. Is this still an illegal motor vehicle act? Sure.

Category Four – The Veiled Aggressor + No Chance to Get Out of the Way. Category Four is the worst—-the worst form of lowlife out there on New Jersey’s roadways. This is the driver who gives you no warning that they are going to strike, and does something surprisingly unforseen. And you get your near-death experience. Because if they don’t break, you will be dead. You don’t have the opportunity to get out of harm’s way.

The “threes” and “fours” make walking an extraordinarily dangerous activity. It’s easy to cross the road in anticipation of Category Ones and even, Twos (since they are giving you the heads-up.) That is how many aggressive male drivers seem to approach it–“twos”, but a number of them go to be “threes”.

Bad women drivers, on the other hand, since they were “all once little girls”, “sugar and spice”, etc., tend to be “threes” and “fours”. This is so, even though they tell perfect truth about whatever they do with a car. Don’t ask me to explain that paradox–I can’t figure it out myself. The behavior looks totally illegal, but there is never a confession or statement ot that effect.

(Of the thousands of times I’ve crossed Main Street Somerville, I remember two salient instances in, say, the past five years. SUVs? Nope. Small-to-midsize cars. One where an elderly lady in a Mercedes decided to rev the engine a few hundred yards back as I was crossing by the Antique Store. Then there was the night I was given similar “incentive to move” by a woman with the state’s “Animal Friendly” license plate.)

(I sure wish they’d make “Pedestrian Friendly” ones.)

So you see, if you decide to be a serious walker in New Jersey, you first must learn to be an artful dodger of cars, trucks, SUVs.