Pedestrian issues — East Riverside at Lakeshore Boulevard in Austin, TX.
The dangers of simply walking to the store. It’s just like the game, but with breakable bodies and 4000-pound vehicles.
In the video below, it can be seen that I’m walking in the far lane when a driver cuts past me within that lane (‘B’ in the photo below). On the return crossing, a driver is aiming her car directly toward me, and I have to increase my pace to get out of her way. I got this video within five minutes of being at this location—this is a common occurrence here.
Drivers proceeding onto Lakeshore from the left turn bay on East Riverside (e.g., the black car in the photo to the left) rarely yield to pedestrians in the roadway facing a lighted walk signal. This is the single worst location I have found between I35 and Pleasant Valley Road. It is in this location where I regularly have drivers cut past me on one side or the other as I am crossing, blocking following drivers’ view of me. The vast majority (90%+) of drivers making this turn either do not understand their requirement to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, choose to ignore it, or fail to look for a pedestrian.
When people are crossing the roadway with a lighted walk signal, it is not uncommon to have drivers accelerate their vehicles toward them, honk at them, shout obscenities, or do all three at once.
- A pedestrian control signal displaying “Walk,” “Don’t Walk,” or “Wait” applies to a pedestrian as provided by this section.
- A pedestrian facing a “Walk” signal may proceed across a roadway in the direction of the signal, and the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian.
- A pedestrian may not start to cross a roadway in the direction of a “Don’t Walk” signal or a “Wait” signal. A pedestrian who has partially crossed while the “Walk” signal is displayed shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “Don’t Walk” signal or “Wait” signal is displayed.
Although drivers will occasionally stop when someone on foot is approaching this crossing headed west (‘up’ in the photo marked ‘A’), I have only had drivers stop for me a few times (out of many hundreds of crossings) to let me cross when headed in the other direction (i.e., proceeding from the AMLI building side—the side shown in these photos below). Unless a pedestrian is actually in the roadway, a driver is not required to yield the right of way, yet the rarity of doing so is an indication of the climate facing people walking along this stretch of roadway.
Even when a person on foot is in the roadway and has the right of way, drivers often continue toward them at full speed, using intimidation to get the pedestrians to move out of their way.
- The operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing a roadway in a crosswalk if:
- no traffic control signal is in place or in operation; and
- the pedestrian is:
- on the half of the roadway in which the vehicle is traveling; or
- approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
- Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and proceed into a crosswalk in the path of a vehicle so close that it is impossible for the vehicle operator to yield.
The view of vehicles approaching East Riverside from Lakeshore is obscured by trees planted near the corner of the AMLI building (above). Getting a clear view can mean leaning out into the road. Drivers traveling at 35+ mph approaching this corner are common, and they cannot be readily seen from this vantage point. Drivers often round this corner at a relatively high speed. So much so, that some drift out of the curb lane around the corner in order to be able to accommodate the speed (not seen in this instance below, but it happens regularly).
This video gives an indication of how difficult it is to see when it is safe to cross:
Headed into this crosswalk (especially westbound, but the traffic to one’s back) carries with it the risk of being hit by a westbound driver making a right turn onto Lakeshore. Fewer than one in three drivers making this turn will use their signal. I once had to step back to avoid being hit by an Austin Police Department cruiser, the driver of which had not signaled his turn. I rarely try to cross here without waiting for a gap, knowing that drivers often don’t signal. It was foolish of me to trust that the officer would do so. Sightlines here are poor unless one is positioned right next to Riverside (i.e., at the far left side of the crosswalk when headed west) prior to making the crossing.
This video shows the difficulty of seeing clearly, especially when a vehicle is pulling out of the parking lot upstream:
Incidentally, signs positioned around the curve on this stretch of roadway (they indicate parking rules for the 7-Eleven lot) are often leaning at an angle into the path of pedestrians, posing a significant hazard. Someone walking or cycling into one of these could be seriously injured.
All along East Riverside, the majority of drivers fail to stop before crossing a sidewalk when exiting driveways/parking lots, and they regularly drive across the path of pedestrians when turning in.
On any return trip on foot from my apartment near Lakeshore Boulevard to HEB at Pleasant Valley, I will have to walk around the back of at least three or four vehicles, and sometimes as many as six or seven. Even when the drivers look directly at me, rarely will one back up to allow me to pass. Needless to say, walking behind a vehicle puts me at risk of being hit by a car turning into the road/driveway, or by the driver backing up unexpectedly.
Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.423. CROSSING PROPERTY.
(a) An operator may not cross a sidewalk or drive through a driveway, parking lot, or business or residential entrance without stopping the vehicle. [Granted, this is a poorly worded section.]
Texas Transportation Code Sec. 552.006. USE OF SIDEWALK.
(c) The operator of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, or private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian approaching on a sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance or exit, road, or driveway.
Fortunately I was able to get a video of someone doing it just right. It happens, but not often:
It is so much easier to negotiate these roadways on a bike, integrated in traffic. People walking are at a distinct disadvantage.