The saga of 'Abomination Island'

morguefile/quicksandala
I’m still amused by the responses to a pedestrian island that was recently installed in my neighborhood. It always seems that the squeaky wheels on any subject matter get the most attention in reader comments sections in online forums on issues. The pedestrian island “dilemma” is no different. The squeaky wheels won on the pedestrian crossing’s nickname: “Abomination Island.” Yes folks, creative types live outside of the city and in the suburbs and exurbs. Creativity knows no bounds.

Many who oppose the pedestrian island state that the island is a waste of taxpayer dollars. They say no one uses the island. Indeed, the island doesn’t get much use most likely because potential users don’t feel safe because most drivers travel far too fast through the area. Whether it’s contempt for the island or ignorance about slowing down and allowing pedestrians to cross, many drivers make pedestrians reluctant to use this amenity.

Those who support the island say that it makes a positive impact on the community by allowing pedestrians to safely cross a rather busy road which doesn’t provide much opportunity for crossing. The island also gets drivers to slow down on a road where speeding is quite the norm.

Lately, there has been brouhaha over sidewalk cyclists who attempt to use the pedestrian island. On social media, there has been plenty of back and forth discussions over the rules and regulations regarding pedestrians versus cyclists on our roads and sidewalks. Cycling purists say that biking is only allowed in the streets, not on sidewalks. Furthermore, when passing a cyclist on the road, one must leave at least three feet between car and cyclist. Let’s remember that we are in Georgia and that law, while having great intentions, it is ignored in many cases – not all of course. At least in this case, the city put up a sign saying that it’s OK for cyclists to use the sidewalks around this pedestrian island. Plus kids 12 and under are OK to use the sidewalks for cycling. Nevertheless, when a cyclist is utilizing the pedestrian island, he or she should dismount and walk with the bike across the road.

Another point of contention is that the pedestrian island features a flashing yellow beacon. As most of us learned through “safety town programs” and later, driver’s education, yellow means “slow down.” So, folks approaching the pedestrian island are slowing down to maybe 40 mph versus the usual 60 mph. OK, that’s tongue-in-cheek, but honestly, there are instances when pedestrians are using the island and vehicles are not allowing them to cross. So, should the yellow flashing beacons be allowed to turn red when someone wishes to cross the road? It might just be the answer in this case.
On the hand, it would be sad to have to go through the red tape to get the beacons to act more like standard traffic lights. After all, if someone is in a crosswalk, should a motorist stop regardless of beacons or no beacons? It seems to be common sense and courtesy. 

Unfortunately, society operates at a pace that is far too fast. Most of us are in so much of a hurry. That problem is compounded with daily distractions in the vehicles ranging from the most obvious electronic devices all the way to whatever is on our minds. It would sure be nice to take Henry David Thoreau’s advice: “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.”


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