When a Small Change Makes a Big Difference

pedestrian crossing

Sometimes a small change makes a big difference. The pedestrian/bicycle crossing light pictured above has improved my quality of life tremendously. And I am far from alone.

Since I no longer have to drive anyone to school before or after work, I commute to my job on foot almost every day. As a result, I cross this intersection several times a week. Though a crosswalk was painted years ago, drivers mostly ignored the “yield to pedestrian” rule. I often found myself standing there in all sorts of weather, waiting as eight or a dozen or thirty cars went by before I got an opportunity to cross. This could leave me cross if the temperature was above 90 or below 20.

But now I merely push a button to set the lights flashing, and the drivers stop right away. Usually. I’m in a better mood when I get where I’m going, and I feel a lot safer. I always assumed I’d die in that intersection some day, but this traffic improvement has given natural causes their chance to take me out.

Not only did the city put in a light, they turned the cross street into a bicycle boulevard. Cars are still allowed on it, but auto traffic is reduced by new islands disallowing anything but a right turn. It no longer fuctions as a thru street. This helps my husband, who commutes by bicycle every single day.

I live in a health conscious, environmentally conscious community. Many of us bike or walk when possible, instead of driving. But on this stretch of busy road, pedestrians (yours truly included) tended to watch for any opening in traffic to run across at whatever random place, because the distance between traffic signals was so great. Since the installation of the crossing light, I never jaywalk, and I see very little of it from others. This is safer for drivers, as well. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation.

Many city residents lobbied repeatedly and for a long time to get this installed. And now we have it. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s making a big difference.

In the troubled world of today, the huge problems can seem overwhelming. I know I can get paralyzed, feeling no difference can be made. I would encourage everyone to take what steps you can, wherever you are. We’re never going to solve all of the world’s problems, but we can make a dent. Look around and see what at hand needs improvement. Lobby to get a pedestrian crossing, if that’s what you can accomplish. It might make more difference than your realize.


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