To drivers: As spring warmth comes on, please chill out

Last week on one of the first fully nice days of the year, I thought I’d do a little walking on Seventh Avenue in North St. Paul. I was looking for the simple joy of a stroll on a nice day down a classic main street with plenty of storefronts to peruse.

Heading up Seventh toward Margaret Street, I decided to cross the avenue, and how convenient — there’s a designated crosswalk right in the middle of the block near Neumann’s Bar.

I stood there as cars zipped by. Each driver stared right at me, then looked at the crosswalk sign, then me, square in the eye, then zip — their two tons of motorized steel passed, a gust of wind and horsepower hitting me in the face, making me step back. Then I’d approach the lip of the crosswalk again.  

After idling for about a minute there, a poor wretch waiting to cross the street, a woman in a smallish SUV took pity on me and stopped on the far side of the road. A man in a two-passenger truck barreling down the side I was standing on came to an abrupt stop, the truck body leaning forward on its two front tires then bouncing back as it settled in place.

The truck driver bregrudgingly acquiesced to crosswalk protocol like someone barely washing their hands because other people are in the bathroom. I scurried across the street like a rodent that knows it shouldn’t be there. 

For those behind the wheel of a car, myself included, traveling miles and miles through nearly every condition imaginable — especially after the winter we just had — convenience is king. Convenience can quickly turn to laziness, which, behind the wheel of a two-ton machine, can be deadly. 

A North St. Paul resident was killed after being struck by a driver at a St. Paul intersection in March. At the time, Dan Lytle, 54, was the fourth pedestrian killed by a driver in St. Paul. There were only three such deaths in all of 2018. 

On County Road D near the Maplewood Mall, also in March, 20-year-old St. Paul resident Jordan Ciampi was hit and killed by a driver. 

The loss of life due to driver impatience or distraction is painfully preposterous and entirely preventable.

As the weather warms along with the traffic, I ask drivers, please chill.

 

–Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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