One week ago today, your intrepid HappyFeet blogger had occasion to cross North Phillips Ave. westbound on the north side of N. E. 10th Street.
Just so you get the idea….
the green arrow represents my travels. You can see I was crossing with the flow of westbound traffic on N. E. 10th, so you know that as I crossed the right hand northbound lane of Phillips Ave., I had my head turned at the familiar 135º angle, well-known to all OKC pedestrians–to watch for cars turning right.
As I reached the center stripe–pedestrian signal still registering WALK–a car WHOOSHED behind me. This was a car turning LEFT. That is, a car turned north onto Phillips Ave. from the eastbound lane of N. E. 10th Street. The red arrow in the diagram below represents the car’s path.
In thirty-one years of crossing OKC intersections, this was a new challenge. While I have had several near-miss experiences due to right-hand turns (hence, the habitual 135º turn of the head), this elevated my sense of adventure to a new level. At the time, I failed to embrace the beckoning spirit of emprise to the degree required of OKC pedestrians, and I was puzzled how the traffic signals could allow this to happen. Surely, the left turn arrow had not turned green while the WALK signal was still saying WALK ???
The kind people at traffic control suggested to me that the intersection I crossed must surely not have had controlled left-turn lanes. In this case, cars can legally turn, though they are required to yield to pedestrians. (The yielding to pedestrians didn’t happen.) The signals at intersections with controlled left-hand turns are indeed set so that a legal left-hand turn is not permitted while the crosswalk is activated.
I felt certain this intersection did have left-turn lanes, but perhaps I was mistaken. Just as a check on my sanity, I returned to the intersection today, thankful to still be able to walk. And, as you can see plainly, there most certainly was a controlled left-hand turn signal for a left-turn lane.
So, OKC pedestrians, if there has been any fear that the new Watch for Me campaign will rob us of the sense of excitement and wonder we have come to know and cherish, worry not.
Safe walking to all.