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Editor’s note: This post takes a detour from the usual topics covered on this blog, to address an issue I recently encountered. I share it here because there is a connection with community relations, effective communities, and effective schools.
One of the things New Yorkers love about our city is our marvelous transportation system. Whether it’s trains, buses, bikes, or feet, New Yorkers know how to get around. And get around we do. In fact anyone who lives here and tracks their steps can tell you that without even trying, we get the recommended 10k steps a day just living our daily lives. More and more not only is this city pedestrian-friendly, but with the introduction of services such as CitibikeNYC, it’s also become bike friendly. Or at least one would hope so.
If you’re a New Yorker, you know the rules of the road on foot and pedal. More than 90% of crosswalk buttons don’t work. When you are at a corner, you look both ways and cross when safe. Or as Time Out New York puts it in the article 51 reasons you know you’re a real New Yorker: #4. You jaywalk (and would never consider not jaywalking).
In fact, when you see someone waiting until the light changes when there are no cars coming, it can mean only one thing.
You’ve spotted a tourist.
Not only has this become a rule of the road, but it’s also become an efficient and effective way to keep people moving more safely. Rather than moving among cars, walkers and cyclists can move on empty or less crowded roads.
When the topic came up in San Francisco, Tom Shuler of the Boise Police Department explained to the San Francisco Examiner that allowing cyclists to yield, rather than stop, “makes the road safer for cyclists because it gets them out of the way of cars.”
This is a community norm. The common sense way we operate in New York.
But perhaps not anymore. One of the things that New Yorkers hold dear, (the effective means of getting around town) is being threatened under the guise of “safety.”