It Was Bound to Happen Eventually

I’ve been pretty lucky thus far in my largely pedestrian life in Ann Arbor, because I have a vigilant attitude about vehicular traffic, honed over the years as a pedestrian in the notoriously high-traffic Bay Area. I’ve learned how to stay out of the way of vehicles here for the most part, although the layout of the city is about as unfriendly to pedestrian traffic as it gets. (Not enough stoplights, way too many crazy-quilt intersections, way too many wide boulevards without crosswalks, not even a semblance of a grid anywhere outside of the center of town.) The city lavishes money and attention on bicyclists, which is generally for the good, but if you’re a pedestrian, you might as well not exist.

For instance, just try to figure out how to get across the intersection at State and Stimson without jaywalking or rolling the dice and making a run for it. There are bus stops on both sides of the street, but neither of them is anywhere near a stoplight. The three-way stoplight that’s at the intersection was absolutely not designed with pedestrian traffic in mind; the timing of the lights doesn’t allow time for a pedestrian to cross, and even if it did, no drivers pay attention to the lame excuse for a crosswalk there anyway. To add to the general free-for-all, there are also railroad tracks crossing the intersection diagonally; trains rarely come through, but the presence of the tracks makes the intersection all the more difficult to negotiate in the dark.

Nevertheless, as cautious as I am, I almost got run over as I was walking home tonight. I was bound south on Industrial, not taking my usual route on the relatively quiet east side of the thoroughfare but for whatever reason taking the west side instead. I was passing the Colonial Lanes bowling alley, and I briefly took my eyes off the boulevard because I was busy trying to make sure nobody was roaring out of the parking lot. A northbound car made a left off the boulevard and flew into the lot without stopping. If I hadn’t seen it and I hadn’t instantly frozen in place, I would have been creamed. I suppose I was stupid to walk along that side of the street after dark (even during daylight it’s iffy), although for the life of me I can’t figure out what drivers are thinking when they seem to deliberately ignore pedestrians, and I have the chilling feeling that if I had actually been hit, the car would have sped off without stopping.