07-01-09 - Volunteer Park

Volunteer Park is an oasis of calm and beauty in this shitty pot-hole-ridden non-stopping-car-filled city.

I met Barefoot Ted in Volunteer Park the other day. Apparently he's running 45 miles barefoot around Green Lake for his 45th birthday today. He's like a barefoot jack lalanne.

The next day I discovered my PT Wolf is friends with Ted. Wolf sometimes wears Five Fingers shoes which are for barefoot runners who want protection. They look pretty sweet, I might pick up a pair just so I can enhance my goofball factor a bit.

The reservoir in the middle of Volunteer Park is calling to me. It's all fenced up because America is a bunch of cocks that locks everything and puts fences around everything fun. I've been fantasizing about getting a pair of bolt cutters and breaking in to swim around in it; it's a beautiful huge fresh water pool, it would be so sweet. Obviously I would get arrested, but it would be worth it.

Another act of civil disobedience I've been contemplating lately is painting crosswalks at all the intersections around here. It rankles me deeply the way the cars don't stop for pedestrians here, even on the quiet residential streets. I think it would be a simple pointed statement to go out in the night and paint crosswalks all over.


billyzelsnack said...

You lived in California too long and your sense of pedestrian entitlement is way too high.

Pedestrians need to learn their place. Their place is to be scared of cars. Cars are big and heavy and will crush you.

The real problem is that pedestrians and bikers don't know how to follow the damn common rules. If only 1 out of 3 groups are following the rules ( most of the time ) then bad stuff happens. Either get rid of the rules like in China or everyone needs to follow them.

btw. I'm a pedestrian 95% of the time and I still feel this way. If I have to wait my damn turn to cross the road.. that's fine. I'm not going to fuck up traffic because I really hate it when I do happen to be driving and some other asshole can't wait 10 seconds.

cbloom said...

You are now on my list.

Aaron said...

I'm curious in what context the cars should stop for you. Shouldn't you just wait 10 seconds for the car to go by then cross? Or is it a problem of a stream of cars with no way for you to cross? Sometimes you gotta be an aggressive pedestrian... play with your body language to make the oncoming car see you and think you're about to step out into the street. So often as a driver I can't even tell if someone is just standing there or wants to cross. They don't look engaged, checking directions, looking into my eyes, so I'm not slowing down for anyone like that. I'm with billyz a bit (though I really don't want to be on your list, so maybe we can work something out), the mishmash of rules expectations in this country is what causes a lot of the trouble. In Taiwan, the right of way thing is almost totally reversed. Bigger/faster has more right of way. Busses at the top, then cars, then motorscooters, bicyclists and finally pedestrians. It works very well, the busses can just plow into rush hour traffic, and the smaller more nimble folk can move out of the way. The scooters can swarm around the cars, and the pedestrians keep their asses on the sidewalk and crosswalks and never ever ever ever cross against a light, or look very carefully before crossing a small street (very hard to see a scooter coming sometimes). No one there expects it to work any other way. There is almost never any anger displayed. There's an animal comfort and promotion of alertness in knowing that no one is watching your ass and you gotta take care of yourself. And it's insanely efficient for moving everyone around in a dense environment. Here we try to reverse the rules to make it safer, but really it runs against the grain of nimbleness and efficiency. It's so much better to make pedestrians yield to cars. You just wait for a gap then cross. Or walk to somewhere with a light you can cross with.

cbloom said...

"I'm curious in what context the cars should stop for you. Shouldn't you just wait 10 seconds for the car to go by then cross?"

Well, yes, obviously if there's one car, you wait for it to pass. The problem streets are mostly pretty busy.

I'm mainly talking about intersections which don't have very clear markings or traffic priority, which seems to be the norm around here.

Busy streets with lights is not an issue because it's clear what people should do.

"Sometimes you gotta be an aggressive pedestrian.."

I am a very aggressive pedestrian.

A few things bother me. One is when a mother and kids or old people or something are standing at a corner waiting to cross and nobody stops for them.

Another is once a ped is already in the road, it doesn't fucking matter who is right or wrong at that point, you fucking stop. You don't try to speed around them or cut really close to them.

A lot of the corners around cap hill are just super blind and very dangerous to try to sneak across traffic. Really the cars just need to go way slower.

I don't understand the massive double standard that drivers seem to feel that "the ped can just wait for me to pass" but it's not okay for the driver to wait for the ped to pass.

The other one that bothers me a lot are the corners that are specifically marked for ped crossings where they actually have flashing yellow lights and crosswalks, such as 12th and Mercer or 11th and Aloha, where the cars STILL blow right in front of peds. (I think those intersections are only marked because it's near a school)

At an intersection with no light, it is ALWAYS the pedestrians turn to cross. The ped should be nice and let single cars go by, but there is no "the ped should wait his turn", it is his turn. That's the law, so get off the damn high horse about peds breaking the law.

Seattle peds are ridiculously docile. I never see J-walks, people go to the corners and then just stand there until 3 AM when there are no more cars passing to cross.

I dunno, there's just no rational argument to it. What do you gain by endangering a ped? A few seconds of time? How can you possible argue that that is morally correct. It's not like it's a huge hassle for a car to stop and then go again (unlike on a bike, where it is a huge hassle to stop), so just fucking stop. And fucking slow down in the god damn residential neighborhood.

Now, people who j-walk across busy streets (and intentionally do it really slowly) should be deliberately run over.

Aaron said...

Had to check to be sure :)

Yeah, sounds like painted crosswalks would help out quite a bit in your scenario. I bet 75% of drivers or more don't know about the curb=crosswalk rule. You could request it. My aunt got a formal request in for a crosswalk on 35th, but I think people voted against that one (and rationally too, a crosswalk there without a stop light would be suicidal, there's too much two line high volume traffic for the other lane to see a pedestrian coming across).

Also sounds like capital hill has some major asshat drivers. It definitely is very ambiguous with signage and rules, and the ambiguity probably breeds some of that badness (though if you've got drivers almost hitting people in crosswalks too, not sure there's much you can do).

Seattle even has a lot of intersections that have NO yield or stop sign in any direction, without even a fakie-roundabout. Wtf does that mean!?! So confusing.

"You don't try to speed around them or cut really close to them."

If I see another driver do that I generally go try to run him off the road shortly afterword.

"I don't understand the massive double standard that drivers seem to feel that "the ped can just wait for me to pass" but it's not okay for the driver to wait for the ped to pass."

Depends on the traffic density. With few cars, the answer is because the ped waits 10 seconds for the car to pass and the car waits 30 seconds for ped to pass. Not very fuel efficient either, but that's not really a concern.

"Seattle peds are ridiculously docile"

This is part of the problem too. I have to decide whether a lot of them even want to cross, cuz they look like they're trying to ignore me to wait for me.

I do have to say I've seen more near misses where a pedestrian almost got creamed when a car stopped to let them cross than someone just making a crossing in traffic when it seemed clear. Too often the other lane doesn't see the crosser, or they pop out to do the seattle 'pass on the right cuz of a left-turner at a light' thing and then almost hit the ped as the step off the curb. Sometimes I don't stop for a pedestrian unless I see the OTHER lane is clear and I know there's no space on my right for someone to try to zip around me, out of concern for the pedestrian.

Aaron said...

On 35th in Wedgwood I shit you not we have not just crosswalks, but also crosswalks with FLAG RECEPTACLES at both sides, so you can grab a flag and wave it around as you cross. And then two streets over, the intersection with no stop/yield stuff. Ai....

Sly said...

I'm with Charles on that one. After living in Chicago, Paris and Singapore, it's a pleasure walking and biking safely in Montreal.

old rants