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In the Middle, In the Middle, In the Middle

I just listened to a great walkable neighborhoods related song by They Might Be Giants called In the Middle, In the Middle, In the Middle. Check out the song lyrics:

Don’t cross the street in the middle in the middle
In the middle in the middle in the middle of the block

Don’t cross the street in the middle in the middle
In the middle in the middle in the middle of the block

Use your eyes to look up
Use your ears to hear
Walk up to the corner when the coast is clear
And wait
And wait
Until you see the light turn green

Don’t cross the street in the middle in the middle
In the middle in the middle in the middle of the block

…And the song continues along in the same manner. It is a really quirky song, but it brings up an interesting debate: Is it really safest to cross at the intersection? Statistics show that most pedestrian crashes happen at intersections, which makes sense considering that is where most pedestrians cross the street. However, there are so many points of potential conflicts with pedestrians and vehicles at intersections. At mid-block crossings, most of the time there are as many points of conflict as the number of crossing lanes and you only have to look two different ways. Plus, you probably are crossing when you have the largest gaps between vehicles. Of course, this is often easier said than done, especially when you are crossing at point with no marked crosswalk. And you are taking the additional risk of getting a jaywalking ticket.

I have heard that in California it is legal to cross mid-block when you are not between two signalized intersections. I am not sure if the same applies based upon distance between signalized intersections. I should hope so, sometimes you can go miles in suburbia without a signalized intersection.

Needless to say, no matter where you cross, always use extreme caution. Even the most frequent walkers (Like me, I have had a few close calls recently even while playing close attention).

The photo above was shot at a bus stop at the University of Illinois. I noticed that the two girls in the left side of the photo were crossing the street in the middle, in the middle, in the middle of the block. The interesting thing is that the side of the street I was sitting on is in Urbana. The side they crossed from is in Champaign. Who has jurisdiction? My guess is the University Police. Makes for some interesting police incident coding reports I bet!

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • MikeL April 9, 2006, 3:33 pm

    TMBG ROOL!!

    also, I remember reading about a pseudo-study of stray dogs in urban environments avoiding corners, and crossing in the middle in the middle in the middle of the block. the researcher followed individual dogs, and the dogs would turn and walk a few feet down away from the intersection, then cross, then back up to the original street in the original direction. He theorized they crossed in the middle because there were fewer threats (cars can approach in only 2 dirs) rather than all the myriad of possible directions @ an intersection.

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