That pedestrian crossing sign does NOT mean "run them over"

That pedestrian crossing sign does NOT mean "run them over"



This sign here–it fucking means YIELD to pedestrians. Not “accelerate to beat them to the crosswalk.”

It also doesn’t mean “continue at the same speed and hope they get out of the way in time.”

It doesn’t mean “let’s scare them and pretend we’re going to run them over, but leave a few inches to spare instead.”

And it sure the hell doesn’t mean, “run them over.”

If you haven’t been downtown in a while, there’s been a campaign using mannequins to represent the 32 people who’ve died in pedestrian/auto collisions in Chicago last year. Usually because the driver is being idiotic or “distracted” or doesn’t understand that this yellow diamond means YIELD and not IGNORE.

Count your blessings that these signs aren’t frigging STOP signs, forcing you to stop every few feet. The YIELD sign is a nice compromise. If there’s no pedestrians, you can keep on going at the same speed.

But that does mean if there are pedestrians–you slow down. Sometimes even stop.

Believe it or not, at these signs, pedestrians actually have the right-of-way. Not you. Not you in your comfy climate-controlled car that you’re paying through the nose for the license and the gas and the parking for. You chose to pay those fees for the convenience, so surely you can be inconvenienced to slow down and/or stop for us people who walk the city.

Did you ever wonder why some pedestrians give you the Chicago salute? It’s probably because you tried to run us over.

Maybe these murder-drivers in the pedestrian safety campaign didn’t pay attention in driver’s ed. Maybe they somehow memorized the facts, regurgitated in the tests, and then promptly forgot about all the rules and requirements for driving. Maybe they got so caught up in the “Bohemian Rhapsodysong they forgot about the road.

Don’t let that be you. Remember, the big yellow diamond means YIELD.

Oh, and while I’m on my soapbox, I’m going to tell you pedestrians some tips. No texting while walking. Look where you’re going. And ideally, keep the earbuds OUT of your ears, so you can hear the cars honking at you when you’re exerting your right-of-way in the crosswalks.

Thank you for listening to my PSA.

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  • YW.

  • AMEN.

    I love your blog, btw. I was scared to death to even tweet your article about the Duggars last November, but I do want to tell you it caused quite a conversation on my moms' message board.

    Good work, Holly!

  • Thanks, Jenna, that means a lot to me! I like causing conversation--so long as people don't start yelling at me ;)

  • Is your cat actually balancing on your shoulder? Like a parrot?

  • In reply to gwill:

    Yes, Joe is actually balancing on my shoulders like a parrot--he started doing that as a kitten (6 weeks old) because then he could put his face closer to my face. I don't know why, but he loved it. It also meant I could do housework and homework and still be able to "hold" him.

    He still likes to do it sometimes, but he's grown some more since that picture some months ago (I think he was 7 months in that pic, and he's a year old now), and I can't do it anymore.

    How it works is I roll my shoulder forward a little bit so he can put his paws (er, I should say claws) on the back part of my shoulder bone. Then he does his cat balancing magic trick to lean forward and ride around exactly like a parrot. He can almost talk like one, too, albeit cat language. He's such a crazy cat.

  • In reply to Holly:

    Cool. You should post a video of this. God bless Joe!

  • In reply to gwill:

    Next time he does it, I'll have my husband videotape it. :)

  • In reply to Holly:

    haha.. My cat does that too, only he takes up both shoulders now.

  • Another message to pedestrians (and I'm one of them a lot of the time, BTW) is not to stand near the black and white crosswalks if you're not actually intending to cross the road. Driving up Lincoln between say Fullerton and Diversey is a nightmare at the moment. There are new crosswalks sometimes every fifty feet, and because they're on street corners, there are often people trying to catch cabs - standing on the crosswalk.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    I agree completely, Expat! I sometimes wonder if people are tempting fate when they do that. Thanks for reminding us all...and thank you for driving carefully.

    (I must confess I'm guilty of it myself sometimes--either I'm impatient to cross or I'm trying to peer around parked cars without getting run over. I will be more careful, though.)

  • Holly, you make some great points and I agree that there are some horrible drivers out there who do not have proper regard for pedestrians. I only wish the flip side of this problem were addressed a little more. You touched on some tips for pedestrians in your last paragraph but in my opinion it is not nearly enough. I live downtown, I walk to work every day and I actually sold my car a few years ago. I'm firmly convinced that pedestrians are at LEAST as big a danger to themselves as drivers are. You constantly see people crossing on left turn arrows, against lights, where there are no crosswalks... basically walking around as if they always have the right of way no matter what. Now, whether or not that's true under the letter of the law, it's completely devoid of common sense and will be of little consolation to somebody when they're in the morgue. A couple weeks ago I saw a teenage girl VERY nearly get killed when she walked across Congress at Michigan, 100% against the light, and without even looking. Again, I agree with your post, I just want people to realize that there is plenty of onus on both sides of this problem, and I'm a bit tired of only ever hearing about how the big bad drivers are a menace to the poor, helpless pedestrians. Thanks! :)

  • In reply to neillaferty:

    Good, good point--thank you for writing! I will make a post about "suicidal" pedestrians who ignore basic safety laws, because of your input. Seriously, I've seen some idiot pedestrians, too. I know I've chanced it before, myself, but there's certain areas and certain times of days when pedestrians should absolutely follow the rules. Like, rush hour in the Loop, for one thing....

  • In reply to Holly:


  • Preach it!!!! It's the same here in Vancouver too with the added 'bonus' that half the drivers also think that the PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK is the perfect place to wait out a red light in. Yes, I've had to walk AROUND into traffic to get around cars that were blocking the entire crosswalk when it was thereotically my turn to use said crosswalk (apparently it would have been too much work for them to, oh I dunno BACK UP a couple of feet and GTFO the crosswalk.)

  • In reply to catmcroy:

    Ugh, I hate those drivers, too--seriously, people, if it's safe to do so, back up please so the pedestrians don't have to risk being mown over by the traffic.

    Sometimes people get caught in the crosswalk for various reasons, like if they were trying to turn left but the light turned red, I can understand it. Most of the time, it's drivers being assholes.

  • fb_avatar

    The issue is the lack of understanding and respect of the law by pedestrians and drivers. I have lived and worked in cities and states with pedestrian right of way laws. I have travelled the world and the only city that doesn't enforce the laws is Chicago. My insurance will not pay claims from injured pedestrians, they fight them in court. I have asked Ald. Brookin to bring jaywalking and walking against the light enforcement to floor of city council. You can not have pedestrians challenging 2 tons of steel unless they have a "S" on their chests under the clothes.

  • In reply to Charles Butler:

    The only other city with potentially worse jaywalkers than Chicago is Denver (at least, of the cities I've been to, which isn't saying much). I think it's very much part of the culture in different cities, whether people jaywalk or walk against the light or not. And unfortunately, Chicago is definitely one of those "jaywalker-friendly" places. I don't know if the police refuses to enforce it because they have bigger fish to fry like bicyclists blowing the red light, but I agree--pedestrians need to be more careful. I will definitely have to write a post for the idiot pedestrians.

    (I admit, I chronically walk against the light myself...but only if the road is clear. So, it would be hypocritical of me to decry that. But I do disagree with pedestrians who think they can beat the car to the intersection. No. You can't. Especially not if the said car is a cab. )

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