Streetfilms has a feature on Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) for crosswalk signals that I’d recommend watching. In short, before a signal for vehicle traffic turns green, LPIs give pedestrians a head start to establish their presence in the crosswalk. While Streetfilms doesn’t cite safety statistics, virtually all pedestrians can imagine how LPIs might improve their odds. We’ve all likely had the experience of getting a “WALK” signal and stepping out into the crosswalk right as Mario Andretti (or at least his evil twin) takes off from his pole position right as the light turns green as if the green signal releases a massive rubber band holding Mario’s car in place.
The city of Seattle has already started experimenting with LPIs in “a few” locations (Sadly, no mention of where). I stumbled across one on 4th Ave S, just north of Costco and can say that it at least *feels* safer. Going forward, I’ll be interested to see more of these, especially in locations with heavy volumes of turning traffic. Perhaps 4th & Olive, or 6th & University near the I-5 onramp? Where would you like to see an LPI?
While driving the Issaquah shuttle (Metro route #200) this morning, I had a layover in front of Fred Meyer on East Lake Sammamish Way. Across the parking lot from Fred Meyer is a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop along with several other businesses including, of course, a Starbucks coffee shop. Since I hadn’t been to a Krispy Kreme in a while I thought I’d walk over and pick up a doughnut. While walking across the parking lot I noticed a line of cars waiting for the drive-thru but didn’t think much of it at the time. After using the restroom, buying a doughnut, and watching their Willy Wonka-ish machine crank out the sweet little O-rings that made Krispy Kreme famous, I headed back to my bus.
I noticed there was still a line of cars at Starbucks so I walked on the sidewalk that runs past the drive-thru and turned around to take this picture.
Now, the cars in this picture are not the same cars I observed when I walked past the first time. However, these cars did not move in the time it took me to walk from Krispy Kreme, seen in the background, to the point from which I snapped this picture. I’m relatively sure they didn’t move in the time it took me to walk back to my bus. But either way, I’ve got to wonder why these people didn’t just park their car and *walk* into Starbucks to get their coffee?
Are we really so used to sitting in traffic that we will willingly do so at the local coffee shop to avoid walking an extra 100 feet? Are these people engrossed in a book on CD? Or are these people so immersed in an important phone conversation that they dare not leave the warm and cozy confines of their automobile? Whatever the reason is, I simply don’t get it – and I hope I never do.
I ended up driving the 200 again this morning and saw this scene repeated. I decided to perform a little experiment. From the front door of Fred Meyer, which is further across the parking lot from the above picture’s location, I spotted a car in line to use as my test subject. I then walked over to the Starbucks, went inside, looked over the menu, ordered an 8oz Mocha, and proceeded to surf the Internet on my phone while waiting for my test subject’s car to appear. About 7 or 8 minutes after I had started the experiment, the white Toyota land yacht that I had been waiting for appeared. For the record, I was halfway through the luke-warm and chalky liquid that Starbucks calls a “Mocha” at this point.