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Why Don’t Crosswalks Have Stop Signs?

Written by Arian Horbovetz and originally published on The Urban Phoenix blog

A few nights ago I was riding my Onewheel through the residential streets of Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood. I slowed as I approached a lightly traveled 4-way stop sign controlled intersection, where a car stopped and yielded the right of way to me as I had reached the intersection first.

A few minutes later, I tried to cross Rochester’s South Ave. while carrying my device across a crosswalk. And while the signage clearly states that pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way, 8 cars blew through said crosswalk before a car finally stopped and allowed me to pass.

Tonight I was trying to cross another street near Rochester’s historic Mt. Hope Cemetery (final resting place of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony) at a RRFB-controlled crosswalk. I pressed the button which activated the flashing yellow lights indicating that a pedestrian is ready to enter the crosswalk, and subsequently watched in horror as 19 cars drove through the crosswalk without so much as a brake tap.

Here’s my question… why aren’t pedestrian crosswalks simply controlled with a traditional stop sign? For the life of me I’ve never been able to understand this. Let’s break it down…

If we think of stop signs as safety signals for everyone on our streets, then why is it that our most vulnerable population, people on foot, only receive “yield” status?

If we claim that a pedestrian always has the right of way in a crosswalk, why do we treat pedestrians as “yield” worthy instead of “STOP” worthy like we do cars? Why doesn’t every non-signal-controlled crosswalk simply have a universally recognizable stop sign instead of an innocuous yield sign or flashing yellow lights that most drivers simply dismiss?

We claim to prioritize pedestrians with bright signage and flashing lights but until we prioritize a person the way we prioritize a car, truck or SUV, the number of people killed by cars will continue to rise.


Arian took this to the next level when he conducted a filmed experiment with an RRFB crosswalk — take a watch below:

Did that peak your interest? Consider attending this week’s Rochester Street Films Event: Silent Epidemic on the growing number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on our streets. We’ll be featuring this video along with several others + local data + live discussion with community leaders and crash victims.

(attend in-person at The Little Theatre or via livestream)

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Art of Conversation

A new Transit Center began operating, demolition began on the old Inner Loop, and a 1000-bike sharing system may soon launch, along with hundreds of other projects in the region. What should we make of them or of others not planned?

In the early days of Reconnect, we shared more ideas, news, and opinion around a table, but nowadays a tight agenda occupies our meetings. Though smaller workgroups have formed, they’re tasked onto specific projects. In so, we miss larger opportunities to connect from wider ideas and to form new ones, and thus #innovate. Salons let us rejuvenate some of this early energy.

Conversations in a salon need not focus on our projects, or projects around the region, nor even transform into action. They may wander onto tangential topics. This keeps the conversation fresh, and also opens the floor to others who might not otherwise participate in monthly salons about transportation or land-use reform.

Salons practice an art of conversation, of listening and sharing ideas. Convened in a space comfortable for ten to twenty, and hosted historically by educated patronesses of a royal court, they’ve taken form this century convened by inspired hosts. Help us revive the form.

* Or use the form directly and you can revise your response later.