Letter to the editor: Wake up, bikers and pedestrians
Reference is made to the Steve and Sheila Huestis letter to editors (Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2016) and their reference to the Dr. Patrick Stine letter of Oct. 27. I also drive in Middlebury and around the college area and I applaud the Huestis letter. While students often are guilty of these acts, many other residents are as well, and I want to reiterate two things.
While pedestrians do have a right of way in a crosswalk, until they actually have entered the crosswalk, they have the responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and stop, look and listen prior to entering a crosswalk. I was taught that when I was growing up. To this day I teach that same edict to my grandchildren. Walking with heads down, blinded by sweatshirt hoods, wearing ear buds, or thumbing text messages on mobile devices when entering a street crossing is sheer lunacy.
There is no reason to be walking blindly into what might be oncoming traffic which may be going too fast or may be too close to stop in time, just because you have a legal right of way once you are in the crosswalk. I can assure you, if anyone tried the same things in New York City, Boston, Montreal, or in other cities, these same people would be statistics on the evening news!
Secondly, bicyclists are supposed to follow the same rules of the road that motorists must. I have seen a few bicyclists actually follow the rules of the road. However, here in Vermont and elsewhere, as the police do not enforce this at all, many bicyclists totally ignore that rule of law. They get away with bicycling on sidewalks endangering pedestrians, and then swerving into crosswalks to cross streets, not as a pedestrian, but as a bicyclist, expecting that drivers are going to give them the same rights of way as pedestrians. That again is sheer lunacy.
If a driver sees a walking pedestrian, they may get a moment to think about what the person might do. However, a bicyclist, going 2, 3, or more times faster, cuts that thought process time by many times. Several years ago, I applauded a Burlington police officer who cited a bicyclist on Battery Street for speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign and for not using proper turn signals.
I believe that if more of our police officers held bicyclists to the same rules of the road, others might become more considerate. In the end, the truly sad thing is, if either an unaware pedestrian or an inconsiderate bicyclist is injured in a crosswalk, the motorist is going to be held at fault.
Art Remick, Shoreham