May 7, 2012

It's dangerous to carry a red flag here in Madison.

These mellower approaches to mediating between cars and pedestrians really don't work too well:
Susan Elias never saw the car coming. And the driver never saw her, even though she was holding a red flag....

“What routinely happens, and what is really scary, is that a car will stop,” Sally Lehner said at the meeting, according to a report in the neighborhood news service Madison Commons. “Someone will be really nice and wave 'go ahead.' And then another commuter will come up behind, have no idea that car is stopping because they're letting me go, and nearly hit us.”...

With the population on the city's west side expanding, causing more and more drivers to look for fast routes from the downtown, [Madison Police Capt. Joe] Balles says, the traffic pressure on Monroe Street isn't likely to abate.

“It's got to go beyond red flags. It's got to go beyond enforcement,” he says. “We've got to really start modifying the environment and make it more pedestrian-friendly down there.”
Modifying the environment? How about stop signs, traffic lights, and expensive tickets for violators? Sorry to be old fashioned, but I don't want to pay for a lot of speed humps and islands. I want to make money. Get out there and ticket drivers. And lose that red flag program. It's a dangerous illusion of safety.

(Personally, I have used the red flags to point at evil drivers in an uncivil effort to shame them for driving through where I'm supposed to have the right of way, but it just cranks up pointless inner anger.)

99 comments:

Scott M said...

And lose that red flag program. It's a dangerous illusion of safety.

Has anyone put bull horns on the front of their ride as a joke?

Mogget said...

Driving along Monroe Street like a bat out of hell does not display the appropriate level of social sensitivity that we here in the sensitive city of Madison expect of people. Trashing the capital building, on the other hand, is what every upstanding citizens aspires to.

campy said...

She says it's natural for drivers who can't see what's going on ahead of them to try to bypass stopped cars, especially if they think those drivers are trying to make a left turn.

So a lot of Wisconsin drivers are stupid?

EMD said...

I'm shocked to find that in Madison they use red flags.

MadisonMan said...

I never use the red flag. I just cross and expect people to stop.

But (I'm not suicidal) I make sure the driver sees me. It helps that I'm tall. It also helps that I spent several years driving out east, where driving is a competition to see who can get through the intersection first.

Ann Althouse said...

Another thing about the red flags is that they are so shabby and makeshift. I can't believe this is held out as a serious approach to safety.

You've got dowels with triangles of red plastic staple-gunned on, and the holder for them is made out of some PVC pipe.

It's like some local moms and dads threw it together.

Triangle Man said...

I've never seen a pedestrian hit, but I have seen all four levels of red flag use.

Level 1: Carry red flag.

Level 2: Wave red flag at driver.

Level 3: Point red flag at driver and scowl.

Level 4: Whack hood of car with red flag.

EMD said...

Shouldn't a few nice civil suits take the wind out of speeding sails?

Matthew Sablan said...

I am a pedestrian in the Fairfax and D.C. areas. I've never been hit by a car. Look both ways, don't jaywalk, and only cross at crosswalks helps a lot. If people are being -hit- in the crosswalks, then you need to start ticketing people. Jaywalkers and dangerous drivers alike. I saw a cop give a ticket to a guy on a bike once for going against traffic.

Maybe they could just pay for a walk-way above the street.

MadisonMan said...

I have complete agreement with althouse on the fines. How about $1000 if you hit a pedestrian, and $500 if you don't yield the right of way? Plus mandatory driving school -- that also costs money? The police could make plenty of money sitting at Trader Joe's on any week day around 4:45-5:15.

While they're at it, can they do something about the roll-through stops at Speedway and Regent?

Triangle Man said...

It is probably worth pointing out that the flags are used at crosswalks that are between traffic signals. Although the state law is that cars must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, few do.

John Hawks said...

One day I saw 7 officers doing enforcement there, one at the crosswalk taking down license numbers, two motorcycle and one patrol unit waiting in each direction. They had five drivers stopped during the time it took me to walk through the area.

TosaGuy said...

I've never heard of this red flag thing....but I've never lived in a place where symbolism so overwhelms substance.

Triangle Man said...

While they're at it, can they do something about the roll-through stops at Speedway and Regent?

If you're going to call a street Speedway, you've got to expect that right?

Michael Haz said...

Wait. People in Madison drive cars to work?? How did this happen? Were the trollies full that day?

Mitchell said...

Instead of red flags you could try red poncho-airbags.

Michael Haz said...

The problem of crossing streets would go away if Madison simply eliminated streets.

In Madison, the authorities pretty much ignore weed dealers, but try to stamp out car dealers. That way there's more areas for the homeless to occupy.

It is shocking that in Madison, where Darwinism is a religion, people don't see the value in *some* citizens getting run over by cars.

prairie wind said...

Police do not do anything alone anymore. They don't stop speeders except when they set up a speed trap that includes several cruisers. You can't expect a lone cop to go after someone who runs a red light because cops are all about self-protection now. It is safer for them to enforce laws the speed-trap way than it is for a single cop to stop the guy weaving dangerously through traffic. Police no longer 'protect and serve'. They protect and serve themselves.

bagoh20 said...

Poor Madison. With a huge population far outstripping any other city in the history of the world, they need to create a new paradigm to deal with the myriad problems of being the world largest city.

rehajm said...

I'm shocked to find that in Madison they use red flags.

Perhaps you missed the hammer and sickle in the corner?

Tibore said...

Flags? Seriously??

Look, Madison, cars won't stop unless they see a light or a stop sign. That's what's taught to you in Driver's Ed. Giving people flags isn't going to do a damn thing.

Duh, Madison. I mean it - Duh. You want more safe pedestrian crossings, put in more crosswalks with stop or Yield To Pedestrian signs, or outright stop lights, even if they're in the middle of the street. You want a better pedestrian experience or a predominant pedestrian area, pave over the street to make it a pedestrian promenade instead of a vehicle roadway. But don't even try and think that flags are going to make any difference. That's outthinking yourselves.

Ann Althouse said...

"Poor Madison. With a huge population far outstripping any other city in the history of the world, they need to create a new paradigm to deal with the myriad problems of being the world largest city."

Ha ha. I remember when Madison and Austin were the same size. Look at Austin now -- by far the fastest growing city in America. And that's before Apple puts up its big new place.

EDH said...

Red flag, or deep pockets? No good deed goes unpunished.

...a judge in February approved a $4.75 million settlement in a suit filed against Verizon New England and its employee Roger O'Neil over an accident that severely injured 14-year-old Amy Woods in 1996.

O'Neil, driving the Verizon truck, didn't hit Woods; instead, he stopped for her and waved for her to cross the street, but she was struck by a second vehicle that didn't stop. Her parents sued Verizon on the grounds that this constituted negligence.


AMY WOODS vs. ROGER O'NEIL

garage mahal said...

It is shocking that in Madison, where Darwinism is a religion, people don't see the value in *some* citizens getting run over by cars.

At least we're smart enough to not to shit where we sleep. But, somehow fitting, although it would have been perfect if the crap was spread over one county to the east to Waukesha.

Seeing Red said...

Why wasn't a neon color like orange or yellow chosen?


This is the Midwest, we don't stop for people in crosswalks, LA does that.

Scott M said...

At least we're smart enough to not to shit where we sleep.

By "we", kemosabe, do you mean Madisonians? If so, does that include the recently outsted occupiers? They were certainly shitting in very close proximity to where they slept.

Nationwide, the Occupiers have done quite a lot of shitting where they sleep, both in actuality and metaphorically.

EMD said...

At least we're smart enough to not to shit where we sleep. But, somehow fitting, although it would have been perfect if the crap was spread over one county to the east to Waukesha.

No thread must go un-hijacked!!!

Original Mike said...

Pressing your "rights" with a two ton vehicle is dangerous. And leading people to think they can is akin to manslaughter.

Kit said...

Look, Madison, cars won't stop unless they see a light or a stop sign.

Ha! You're kidding, right. A 4-way stop was added to a dangerous intersection in my neighborhood. An actual 'stop' is quite the exception. Some barely slow down...

As for Monroe St...there are a few easy places to add traffic lights. That's what I'd like to see. The flags only seem to work if you also make eye contact with a driver that'll actually stop. Then you gotta work on the other lane. Good luck.

Original Mike said...

I'm a pedestrian in Madison. It's gotten a harder to cross safely because now you can't predict driver behavior.

I don't want people to stop so I can cross the street. I don't like to impose. I'm walking; it;s a lot easier for me to wait. And now I have to do this kabuki dance as I approach the crosswalk to try and prevent people from stopping. I pretend I'm not going to cross (walking parallel to the curb, not making eye contact). It's ridiculous.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Every single story that you link to about Madison just confirms my opinion that "blue" progressive States are just full of stupid people with stupid ideas.

Who ever thought that just holding up a flag and blithely marching into the oncoming traffic would be a safety shield. Like some sort invisible wall of protection. "I'm WALKIN here!!"

Tra la la...waltzing through the world not paying any attention to the circumstances and danger that you might face. Shielded by the illusion of your conviction of being superior.

Original Mike said...

"How about $1000 if you hit a pedestrian,"

$1,000 if you actually hit somebody? I'd put the floor at $10,000. Because not having control of your vehicle such that you can stop if someone appears in front of you is the heart of the matter.

bagoh20 said...

We solved this problem long ago in both New York and Los Angeles in different ways. In New York, you just don't drive. In L.A. you just don't walk. "Nobody walks in L.A"

Original Mike said...

"Shielded by the illusion of your conviction of being superior."

That's what it is. More than once I've seen someone grab one of those flags and walk out into traffic without even looking. And they wonder why people are getting hit.

MadisonMan said...

I don't want people to stop so I can cross the street. I don't like to impose.

How polite!

I find that I'm a more militant pedestrian the closer I am to my house. If I'm walking on the East Side, or out by Hilldale, I'm a lot more cautious.

Steve Koch said...

It is infuriating when drivers blast through a marked crosswalk rather than wait for the hiker/biker to get through the marked crosswalk. I tend to yell at them and motion with the WTF gesture, my contribution to driver training.

The bike I am currently riding is a beast, it weighs over 90 pounds. It is an electric bike and is super strong, all steel. I don't use the motor, just use the bike because it is so strong.

Darrell said...

They should use those giant foam rubber hands with the pointed finger that you see at football games. Red, of course. And a red balloon filled with thick red paint to throw at the windshield should the foam hand fail. We know the just Madison pedestrians would never misuse those balloons. And if a driver careens into a crowd because they can't see? Another reason to ban private auto ownership. Few in the Obama administration ever owned a car. They are your betters.

bagoh20 said...

I drive my Prius down the driveway to my Ferrari which I then drive to the bus stop. This is required to meet the demands of all my constituencies.

Just kidding. I only drive pickup trucks. They are impervious to pedestrians. I need a platform that will facilitate my texting and sexting without the being jarred by minor impacts.

MadisonMan said...

It didn't say in the linked-to article how much the 17-yo who hit the woman was fined. I'd be curious to know.

Her health insurer (if she has one) is going to go after him (or his car insurance) to recoup all her medical costs. Good.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The bike I am currently riding is a beast, it weighs over 90 pounds. It is an electric bike and is super strong, all steel. I don't use the motor, just use the bike because it is so strong.

Unfortunately for you, the SUV I drive weighs over 3000 pounds.

I win!

Michael Haz said...

Garage: Sigh. Is that the best you can do?

Here, let me help you.

During the period from 1994 through the present, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewage District dumped more than 13.4 billion gallons of raw, untreated wastewater into Lake Michigan.

During that entire time, and continuing to the present moment, Milwaukee's mayors were all Democrats. Every darn one of them including Tom Barrett.

During Barrett's tenure as mayor of Milwaukee, MMSD dumped several billion gallons of sewage into Lake Michigan. Where's the outcry, Garage? Shouldn't you be hollering about this? Or does Barrett get a pass on dumping billions of gallons of sewage into Lake Michigan because he's one of your team?

Hypocrite.

Now if I walked my dog on Bradford Beach, and it pooped along the way, I'd get a big effing fine and have to go to court. But then, I'm not SpongeTom StrangePants.

Seriously Garage, you should be pounding your fist on Kathy Stepp's door, demanding that the WI DNR immediately take Tom Barrett into custody. He is the Koch Brothers of shit dumping.

YoungHegelian said...

In the suburban DC county where I live there are more fatal pedestrian/automobile accidents than murders.

The really sad thing: most of the time it's the pedestrian's fault. In the last 11 incidents for this year, 9 incidents were the fault of the pedestrian.

These accidents take a terrible toll on the central American immigrants in the area, who just seem to have no clue as to traffic safety. I have personally seen a mother with child in hand and another in her arms crossing a six lane major north/south route at evening rush hour.

MadisonMan said...

And a red balloon filled with thick red paint to throw at the windshield should the foam hand fail.

I was pissed enough once -- probably had nothing to do with traffic, and more to do with something else -- at a driver blowing through the cross walk at West High one day that I threw my mitten (deerskin, wool-lined, pretty heavy) at their windshield. It went a good 20 feet in the air (and it did prompt them to slow down). I was surprised at how high it got.

bagoh20 said...

I hate stoplights. I like those roundabouts they have in Europe. I never want to use my brakes if I can avoid it. Why have those not caught on in the U.S.?

Sorun said...

The flag stick should include a loud whistle. A small flag by itself is not noticeable enough when I'm texting in the car.

Steve Koch said...

DBQ, that is funny!

campy said...

I like those roundabouts they have in Europe. I never want to use my brakes if I can avoid it. Why have those not caught on in the U.S.?

We have them in Massachusetts, and a large percentage of drivers despise them.

Original Mike said...

I actually got "hit" (tapped, actually) last week. My fault. I had not made eye contact and I knew it. The driver was waiting to turn onto the street and I made the guess that there was no way she'd try to squeeze into traffic.

I chose poorly.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I like those roundabouts they have in Europe. I never want to use my brakes if I can avoid it. Why have those not caught on in the U.S.?

There are quite a few of those in Oregon. Bend, Sun River and other areas where there is newer development. Probably too difficult to completely re-engineer existing older streets. I didn't think I would like them based on my experiences from Mexico City. Imagine a roundabout at NASCAR speeds three or four layers deep, depending on the whims of the drivers, everyone careening from the inner circle to the outer and back. Sometimes you would get caught in the inside circles and have to go around several times to position yourself for an exit on the street you want to take. CHAOS.

BUT the roundy rounds in Oregon are really efficient. You slow just enough to merge and don't need to come to a complete stop. Also for pedestrians, there is no need to look both ways (like Frogger) since everyone is only coming from one direction.

Original Mike said...

"How polite!"

Just common sense. I can wait. Who am I to stop the flow of traffic?

If I believed in AGW, I'd point out it's carbon-negative to make the vehicle stop rather than have me wait. But I'll leave that argument to the true believers.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The ones that I have had experience with in Oregon are all one way streets, in and out.

MadisonMan said...

I chose poorly.

Link

Original Mike said...

"Her health insurer (if she has one) is going to go after him (or his car insurance) to recoup all her medical costs. Good."

I agree.

Original Mike said...

@MM: I love that line. I use it a lot.

Sorun said...

A town I visit frequently put in a couple of roundabouts on an existing commercial street. It was a very long and expensive construction project -- not to be taken lightly.

EMD said...

I like those roundabouts they have in Europe. I never want to use my brakes if I can avoid it. Why have those not caught on in the U.S.?

Where I live.

I like them. But they demand space. I also like the metric system, but that's because I've worked as an Art Director in advertising, where measuring things would be easier with the metric system.

Portia said...

Blogger Scott M said...

And lose that red flag program. It's a dangerous illusion of safety.

Has anyone put bull horns on the front of their ride as a joke?

5/7/12 9:08 AM



You mean like this:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kxm8II-mJag/SxIlxyxmoDI/AAAAAAABRbg/9mEqbQdgUMU/s1600/04auto.583.jpg

Peter said...

Roundabouts are not very pedestrian-friendly, at least not here.

You wouldn't walk across at the roundabout anyway, as you'd have to cross traffic on both sides of the island.

Which brings you back to using red flags to cross, unless you install a push-to-cross traffic light.

TomB said...

"Look, Madison, cars won't stop unless they see a light or a stop sign. That's what's taught to you in Driver's Ed."

When I was in driver's Ed, we were taught that pedestrians *ALWAYS* have the right of way. Crosswalk or no crosswalk, red light or green light.

Bagoh20: re: traffic circles. Grew up in NH and we have them up there. But drivers generally observe right-of-way on them about as much as they do otherwise, so they end up being a lot more dangerous than stop sights or lights. At least those crashes tend to be a lesser speeds.

Original Mike said...

"When I was in driver's Ed, we were taught that pedestrians *ALWAYS* have the right of way. Crosswalk or no crosswalk, red light or green light."

I've always assumed they do. You don't get to hit people. Period.

rehajm said...

We have them in Massachusetts, and a large percentage of drivers despise them.

In Massachusetts a roundabout is called a rotary. Drivers here interpret 'rotary' to mean 'free-for-all'. Anyone who likes them has never experienced one in the Boston area...

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...

Big Ben....Parliament

Matthew Sablan said...

"When I was in driver's Ed, we were taught that pedestrians *ALWAYS* have the right of way. Crosswalk or no crosswalk, red light or green light."

-- I was taught that cars are hundreds to maybe thousands of pounds of death rocketing forward at speeds upwards of 80 miles per hour in some areas. So, even if you have the right of way, get out of the way.

campy said...

Drivers here interpret 'rotary' to mean 'free-for-all'.

Drivers here interpret 'intersection' to mean 'free-for-all'.

PatCA said...

A nearby campus touts its "handicapped friendly" campus. Every year or two, someone in a wheelchair is hit or killed trying to cross a street. False sense of security.

ndspinelli said...

You don't "crank up inner anger", you let it out. This does explain a lot however, thanks.

rhhardin said...

I dress in white not because I like white but because it's the highest visibility clothing, important for everyday bike riding.

If it happens to be twilight you get an edge with day-glow, which works by reradiating ultraviolet as visible light - there's a lot of ultraviolet at twilight and not much visible - but the stuff doesn't work at all in incandescent light or headlights, and doesn't beat white in daylight.

Scott M said...

You don't "crank up inner anger", you let it out.

Hulk smash?

ndspinelli said...

Rondabout/rotary, are indeed not pedestrian friendly. They are injury car crash friendly however. Insurance companies push for them as they eliminate high speed t-bone crashes which occur @ stop sign or traffic light["stop n' go" for you Cheesers] controlled intersections. Cheeseheads hate them because it's change which is a horrible concept for provincial Sconnies.

damikesc said...

Holy Hell, does nobody in Madison know how to drive?

I don't tend to feel like crossing the street at a crosswalk is going to get me killed here. Nor in any city I've ever visited in my life.

ndspinelli said...

Seattle is TOO pedestrian friendly. Car drivers slam on their brakes if they see you even near an intersection. I love to walk but found walking in Seattle nerve wracking in the opposite way I feel uneasy in NYC.

Sorun said...

Here's how to cross a street in 98% of the world: Look both ways, then walk/run when it's very unlikely you'll get hit. Why is that so hard?

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

I recently had the unfortunate experience of trying to pick up my son at Union South during evening rush hour. It took me about 30 minutes driving in circles before I could pull in to that little roundabout between the Union and DoIT.

I've driven in places like Rio, Caracas and Manhattan during rush hour and I can't remember a white-knuckle experience like I had in Madison. Between the pedestrians, moped riders, and cyclist its a wonder more people don't get hurt or killed.

Tibore said...

"TomB said...
"Look, Madison, cars won't stop unless they see a light or a stop sign. That's what's taught to you in Driver's Ed."

When I was in driver's Ed, we were taught that pedestrians *ALWAYS* have the right of way. Crosswalk or no crosswalk, red light or green light."


In quoting just part of my post, you miss my point. The whole concept is that drivers are taught to worry about such obstructions at crosswalks, and taught to obey posted signs in expected areas. Not flags appearing at random and possibly out of nowhere.

Say what you will about what you were taught, what you missed in my statement is that everyone is also taught to cross at crosswalks when cars come to a stop for you. Not to wave a flag that supposedly warns people you're intending to cross in that area. Cars and pedestrians must work together to avoid accidents, and simply having a flag and declaring "I will cross here" is putting the burden of stopping on a heavy car that takes feet to yards to stop, not the human who can stop in a far shorter distance.

You ever bother reading the Wisconsin DOT's page on what the pedestrians responsibilities are?

"Pedestrians must:
*Yield to drivers when crossing a road where there is no intersection or crosswalk or where the pedestrian does not have a green or “walk” signal and where vehicles have a green signal

*Not suddenly move into the path of a closely approaching vehicle that does not have sufficient time to yield for a pedestrian "


Nowhere does it say that the pedestrian right of way is unrestricted. And it's not taught that way either. As an aside getting back to the point of the Professor's post: Nowhere does it allow for pedestrian flags either.

Roads are for cars, crosswalks are for pedestrians. That's why I went to the trouble of saying that, if Madison wants a more pedestrian friendly environment, then they should close over the road in question to make a promenade. Not by thinking that flags are automatically going to solve the problem. Just because pedestrians should have the right of way doesn't mean they should just presume a car will stop at a flag or their mere presence.

You can say what you want, but your manner of approching the problem will get people killed. Pedestrians have the right of way... and should use it sensibly. Not just presume that a car will stop for them. Look both ways, and don't be foolish. That is proper wisdom.

Original Mike said...

"Here's how to cross a street in 98% of the world: Look both ways, then walk/run when it's very unlikely you'll get hit. Why is that so hard?"

Because it doesn't provide an outlet for rightous indignation.

Scott M said...

Because it doesn't provide an outlet for rightous indignation.

Or create new customers for your buddy that owns a plant that makes red flags.

garage mahal said...

I never knew how hard it was to not hit pedestrians in Madison. With or without red flags. Maybe Big Gov needs to step in and install big video projectors around work areas so idiots can watch a tutorial, with pictures, as to how they're so supposed to do react?

Original Mike said...

Garage, I urge you to assert your right as a pedestrian at every opportunity.

garage mahal said...

Guess I'm not a dumb fuck that can't figure out after 45 years how to a.) walk b.) drive. Even waving a red flag -- that's too much to ask?

YMMV

Tibore said...

You know, something that bugs me: The original story talked about people getting hit in crosswalks (which would be the car driver's fault), but it was unclear if the person interviewed was also in a crosswalk or other area.

Also, this bugs me:

"She says it's natural for drivers who can't see what's going on ahead of them to try to bypass stopped cars, especially if they think those drivers are trying to make a left turn.

“I've done it plenty of times,” she says.

But frequently those cars are stopped for pedestrians, often schoolchildren, she says, and that's a recipe for disaster."


Well, wait a minute: If a car is stopped for a left turn, it's going to be bad business to cross in front of that car unless you 1. Know that the crossing traffic is busy enough to keep the car stopped, and 2. Know that no one will be going around him. Not taking either into account is asking for trouble.

Furthermore, is that a stop-signed intersection, or a stop-lighted one? If it's a light, then what do the pedestrian lights say? If we're talking pedestrians crossing the street the car is turning from, then the crosswalk light should be on "Don't walk". And so they'd damn well had better not walk!

Anyway...

As I said above, the responsibility does go both ways: A car that's passing another vehicle that's stopped had better clear both ways before passing that vehicle. Regardless of pedestrian right-of-way, it's just foolish to fixate on the stopped vehicle and not take into account the circumstances and context of the traffic flow and potential obstructions. Especially if the road is as busy as the article is implying.

I don't know Madison well at all, so I don't know if that road is amenable to becoming a pedestrian-only promenade. It may be impractical/impossible. But if the area is that pedestrian-heavy, and if a conversion is not impossible or heavily impractical, it ought to be considered. Interim solutions might be insufficient to solve the problems.

Michael Haz said...

Ha ha. I remember when Madison and Austin were the same size. Look at Austin now -- by far the fastest growing city in America. And that's before Apple puts up its big new place.

Which city (and state) has higher income and property taxes, and also a generally hostile business climate?

Original Mike said...

"But frequently those cars are stopped for pedestrians, often schoolchildren, she says, and that's a recipe for disaster."

No kidding. I decline walking out into the stret in those situations where a driver stops for me. If I'm forced to, (i.e. the car won't budge) I stop at the edge of the next lane and make sure it's safe.

Sofa King said...

Tibore -

As I understand it, it is a pedestrian crosswalk without a street intersection. However, it is not a restricted-access roadway, so people are often turning left or right into driveways, etc. As a result, drivers usually go around a stopped vehicle rather than stopping alongside.

The obvious solution is to install push-to-cross traffic lights.

Rabel said...

You can drive through the intersection in question on Google Earth. Just search for Monroe Street, Knickerbocker Madison, Ws.

The Chief is right. An unmarked parking lane combined with a pedestrian crosswalk without a stop sign or signal is essentially a death trap. The red flag has to be one of the dumber traffic control ideas I've seen.

Kit said...

The red flag has to be one of the dumber traffic control ideas I've seen.

It's not intended to be used as traffic control. It's intent is to make the pedestrian in the cross walk, more visible to the driver...so that on the off-chance that the driver knows about the state law regarding pedestrians in crosswalks,the driver MIGHT stop. The flag doesn't give you domain to the street, it's to be used with caution.

This particular accident happened at rush hour, with a sun setting to the west. Though I don't know the direction the driver was going, if they were heading west, there's little doubt that the sun may have impaired his vision. Not an excuse, just sayin'.

Synova said...

During in-processing in the Philippines they told us that children would raise their hand up into the air and then simply dart into traffic to cross the street, so we had to be very very careful.

I thought that sounded pretty stupid and a good way to get run over.

Sounds to me like Madison has adults behaving like third world children and someone thought this was a good plan.

Original Mike said...

Back a bunch of years ago, there was a fade of putting sun screens in windshields when you parked your car; the point being to keep the seats, steering wheel, etc from becoming too hot to touch when they sat in the sun all day (I still see these things, but not as frequently). One side had a design of your choice. The other side, meant to face into the car under normal circumstances, often had a message: "Emergency! Dial 911!"

It was never clear to me the circumstances under which you would deploy this call for help. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who wondered at the utility of this message. I saw one once that said: "WARNING!!! THIS CAR IS PROTECTED BY A BIG PIECE OF CARDBOARD!!!"

That's what I think of when I see those red flags.

Kathy said...

I go past a red flag outpost on Sherman Avenue by Tenney Park beach every day (Marston and Sherman) It's a 25 mph street and heavily enforced by both Madison Police and Maple Bluff police who sometimes follow folks down the road.

I have never gotten a ticket because I go 25 mph all the time and when I see pedestrians, I slow down.

Yet nothing is more pathetic to me than to see some family man with a kid in Burleigh and a toddler in tow stand there and wave the red flag in hysteria at the slow cars coming down the road.

I see it all the time and all I think is "Good Grief - when did it become such a nanny state that men - and women - feel they need to wave a a flag to cross a street?

I know the answer - the Entitlement Generation has started to have kids.

Good Grief!

PatCA said...

I agree, Kathy. "Safety" has become our only non-offensive societal goal.

Big Mike said...

In the Washington suburbs we cynically call the one dead pedestrian rule. The bureaucrats in charge of installing traffic signals insist that there is no money for traffic signals, statistical studies show no need for signals, and on and on.

Then some pedestrian dies after being hit by a car.

Suddenly the money for the signal is there, and the need is manifest.

So, Madisonians, one of you has a duty to die in that intersection.

Sure hope it's not you, Professor, nor Meade.

Tibore said...

"Original Mike said...

No kidding. I decline walking out into the stret in those situations where a driver stops for me."


Yeah, no joke. I face that situation all the time too. Couple to three miles a day when the weather's not bad, and on weekends as well, but it's all in the city where I live. All too often, I end up starting to go, then stopping and pointing at another car coming that's not slowing down while mouthing something like "He's not stopping." (or normally just "He's not..." because of the oncoming speed). I've not seen any driver not figure out why I'm not crossing at that point. Most nod and grin. Those folks get it.

"Sofa King said...

As I understand it, it is a pedestrian crosswalk without a street intersection. However, it is not a restricted-access roadway, so people are often turning left or right into driveways, etc. As a result, drivers usually go around a stopped vehicle rather than stopping alongside.

The obvious solution is to install push-to-cross traffic lights."


Yeah, that sounds good. Where I'm at (nowhere near Madison, and not in the state of Wisconsin) they've installed a sort of s-curve with a protected median and large signs telling cars to stop - with a yield sign saying "stop", oddly enough (talk about mixed messages!) - when pedestrians are on the crosswalk or in the median. On two roads, it even bottlenecks 2 lanes down to one at that point, then reopens them up back up down the street (although in both cases, that second lane is a dedicated turn lane for those blocks). Somehow it's worked, at least so far. But now they're starting to just put up small dike-type hills (sort of like some old school railroad crossings, but minus the tracks) and a small sign. Those are worse, because you're not forced to slow that far down and you can miss the sign. You just think it's literally an old railroad crossing and don't pay attention to pedestrians. I don't like those specifically because they can be misunderstood by the driver. Whereas those median-with-curves areas are unmistakable.

My overall point is that a pedestrian area must hit drivers over the head about what they are. It's unfortunate, but I've noticed when I'm behind the wheel that I need such places to be screamingly obvious.

Tibore said...

"Synova said...
During in-processing in the Philippines they told us that children would raise their hand up into the air and then simply dart into traffic to cross the street, so we had to be very very careful."


When I was in the Philippines in 2006, the kids I saw never raised their hands before darting out into traffic. :D

On a more serious note, traffic is an entirely unique beast in the Philippines. While in an SUV I joked to my cousin driving that traffic lights and signs seemed to be more like general suggestions than enforced rules. He replied that that wasn't a joke... at the same time he was turning left at an intersection on a red light while tapping the horn to be let into traffic.

MadisonMan said...

I remember when Madison and Austin were the same size.

Really?

In 1950, Austin had a population of 132K; Madison, 96K. In 1960, Madison was up to 126K, Austin 186K. In 1970, Madison was still at 171K, Austin at 250K. In 1980, Madison was stuck at 170K, Austin at 345K.

It is true that in 1930 Madison was the larger city: 57K vs. 53K. Is that the year you're remembering?

Petunia said...

When I was in the Philippines we joked that following the traffic laws was the best way to get a ticket. The Manila traffic was unbelievable.

The red flag idea is just stupid. I had some stupid woman LITERALLY step out in front of my car at the crosswalk by Victor Allen's. There was no traffic behind me and I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting her, and I was going the speed limit.

When she heard my tires squeal she mouthed "crosswalk!" at me and motioned to the crosswalk with her hands. Lucky she couldn't see what hand motion I was making back at her. Lucky for her that my brakes worked well. Typical over-entitled smug Madisonian, she was.

Wish I had a phaser in my grill. Quick, easy, no evidence.

Original Mike said...

"Those folks get it."

Unlike the "flag wavers".

Original Mike said...

" I had some stupid woman LITERALLY step out in front of my car at the crosswalk by Victor Allen's. There was no traffic behind me ..."

The flip side of this drives me nuts. I'll be standing at the curb (NOT having entered the crosswalk yet.) A single car, with nobody behind it, will STOP. Just keep going, for Christ sakes. I can wait 5 seconds.

I. Don't. Want. You. To. Stop. I don't have a stick up my butt over my "rights".

SukieTawdry said...

If it's revenue you're after, you might institute the point system based on who you hit and with what that we had back when I started to drive. As I recall, pregnant nuns garnered the most points but they might not be the rarity today they were back then.