Last Friday night, my wife and I were in Abingdon. After dinner, we decided to take a walk through the middle of the town. Though there was quite a bit of traffic, the crosswalks were clearly marked and when you pushed the button, you got a pedestrian crossing signal, with enough time to cross. Tonight, one Friday night later, my wife and I decided to take a walk in Chester, which was the most stressful thing that we have done recently. Harrowgate Road and West Hundred Road is the only intersection that we crossed that had a button to push and a pedestrian signal to follow. The other intersections had the button, no pedestrian signal, but they did have a sign that stated when crossing this street, wait for the green light, which was confusing. In my personal opinion, the buttons are worthless, without the pedestrian signal. Another problem is that most of the crosswalks are faded out.
So, what happened for me to give Chester a bad review concerning crosswalks? The answer was that my wife and I were nearly struck, coming and going, at Chester Road. In case you wonder, it was still light outside. I thought it funny that as we were trying to keep from being run over, I looked up and saw a sign that said, “Yield to Pedestrians.” Whether we did the right thing or the wrong thing, based upon our understanding of the present button system, we were in the crosswalk. Pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right-of-way, though it doesn’t seem to be recognized. If the sidewalks are not in Chester to be walked on, then the buttons to be pushed by pedestrians need to go. I feel like the buttons alone are only a part of the solution to make intersections along West Hundred Road safer for pedestrians. Freshly painted crosswalks and pedestrian signals like those at Harrowgate and West Hundred are what are needed.
If my wife and I had this kind of difficulty at intersections, then what it is it like for the children that walk to and from school. I am amazed that we do not see pedestrians being struck by motor vehicles more often than we do, or maybe it is happening and we are not paying attention. Yes, Abingdon is different than Chester: three lanes instead of five, but with user friendly crosswalks and signals.
May I never be known as the person who complained, but did not offer a solution. If runners and walkers are welcome in Chester, then start by painting the crosswalks. As I stated earlier, the buttons are worthless, without the pedestrian signals. It is far too easy to misunderstand which green light you are waiting for. I noticed at Harrowgate and West Hundred, when you push the button to cross West Hundred, all lights are red while the pedestrian walk light is lit. So how does waiting for a green light to cross West Hundred, at other intersections, make sense? I don’t know that we will try to walk in Chester again anytime soon, but I still think that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.