Among the countless things we were told as young people by our parents and other adults in our lives was one piece of advice that has remained lodged in our gray matter for decades: Look both ways when you cross the street.
It makes no less sense today than it did the first time we heard those cautionary words way back when. And the advice stuck with us. If we’re out for a stroll or on a bike ride, if we ever need to cross the road, we most certainly look both ways.
It rings no less true for when we’re behind the wheel of our vehicles. If we’re at a stop sign, before we venture across an intersection, it would be foolish to not at least take a thorough peak both ways before we depress the accelerator.
But what if you’re 99.9 percent sure that no traffic is coming from one direction? What if you’re crossing an intersection or turning onto a street in an intersection and in both instances you’re crossing a one-way street? When was the last time you looked in the direction where traffic is not supposed to be coming from before proceeding? You probably can’t recall.
That’s the thought process here today, in the wake of two pedestrians being struck in downtown Crookston, one block from each other and within five days, both while crossing North Broadway in a crosswalk. In both instances, motorists were turning onto North Broadway from Robert Street and Second Street, respectively, when they struck the pedestrians crossing the street.
How does this happen? Well, it’s been theorized, the two drivers may have looked to the south because that’s the only direction traffic on North Broadway, a one-way, is supposed to come from, and when they saw no oncoming traffic they proceeded with their turn before realizing a pedestrian was crossing.
It’s just a theory, mind you. But if you put yourself in the driver’s seat of their two vehicles and you’re honest with yourself, how often are you intently interested in looking to the north when you’re crossing North Broadway or turning onto North Broadway.
Hopefully, this gets better. It has to get better. Maybe when the work on the Highway 75 Bypass bridge is finished, traffic racing through downtown will ease up and a sense of normalcy can return.
But a reduction in traffic once the bypass reopens doesn’t address the exessive speed issue. Face it, we live in an abnormal downtown, at least when it comes to traffic. With three lanes heading in the same direction, it’s a racetrack, day after day. Downtowns in other cities with two-way traffic on their primary arteries, you never see motorists operate their vehicles at speeds even in the same ballpark as they do on Main and Broadway in Crookston.
Main and Broadway will never become two-way streets, but maybe the “road diet” initiative that would reduce the three lanes to two would help some by getting people to slow up a bit and take a look around once in a while. Even better, a second look around.