Do Not Wait Here |

Recently I found myself seeking refuge where no island granting refuge exists. Probably starting the crossing later than I should have, I crossed University Avenue half-way before my walk signal went to solid red, stranding me between the tracks of the Green Line (I could have illegally run in front of the cars, but one never knows).

I waited an interminable amount of time, for which I could have accepted a gap, playing Frogger. I would have if I had more information about where cars were, but couldn’t see well because of line of sight and cars in the turn lane.

A train approached from the left of me. A train approached from the right of me. I don’t exactly know how much space is between the trains, but not terribly much. The train to the left of me blared its horn (so loud I can hear it from more than 1/2 mile away), afraid I might not see it and become another statistic. I moved slightly forward. It passed (without braking as far as I could tell). The train to the right of me blared its horn. I moved backward. It passed (also without braking).  Fortunately they did not pass simultaneously.

Because of me, MetroTransit has now emblazoned the non-refuge area between the tracks at signalized intersections on the Green Line with a “Do Not Wait Here” marking.

Do Not Wait Here
Do Not Wait Here

Obviously, pedestrians are flawed for being so fool-hardy as to be pedestrians, or trying to cross a street on the blinking “don’t walk”, or just being slow, or distracted. But I am not the only one.

Clearly there is also a design flaw in the signalized pedestrian crossings failing to understand human actions, which a spray painted template will do little to alleviate. There is a flaw in traffic signals that do not recognize there is a pedestrian in motion.  Such a marking is, literally, the least they could do to address this problem.

The recommended approach seems to be:

Step 0. Don’t cross University Avenue.

Step 1. If you do cross University Avenue, then don’t get stuck in the median of the tracks.

Step 2. If you are stuck in the median at a red light, then pray.

(Actually, you probably would stand where the foot steps are, since that is in the middle, but then it says, do not wait here).

If you do not wait here, where are you supposed to go, in front of the train?

What if there were a lot of people on the island, not just a few. There might not be enough space. Would the train stop then? I am not convinced this has actually been thought through.

Cross-posted at