The irony, of course, is that I do look both ways on one-way streets. It's just habit, and good sense, really. And don't worry, I feel an immense amount of guilt about what happened yesterday. No one needs to lecture me about being more careful. Go ahead, if you must, I'm a traumatized mother right now.
Here's the short version:
Yesterday afternoon, I and my two cherubic imps were crossing 44th Street at 6th Avenue to enter Sunset Park at its main entrance. As we must because of the steep incline, I poked my head around the parked cars to look for on-coming traffic. Thanks to a double parked car loading items and another car backing up into a parking space down the street, it looked even more safe than usual. Phew. Then I looked up the street and saw an Elegante car service car backing up at 6th Avenue.
They often idle by the fire hydrant or the entrance of the park, so I figured this guy was backing up to the hydrant. I waited. He stopped, took it out of reverse, and sat there. Okay, so he's staying at the entrance. I looked back down 44th - all clear - and I started across the street.
When we were almost across the street, the Elegante car started backing up again. Into my stroller-bound kid. The handle of the stroller was pushed into my other kid (who was strapped to me), and the bumper of the car and the wheel were pushing my stroller and my son's legs along.
Now, I promised my husband a while ago that I would watch my language in front of my children. Sorry, honey. As I was tried to pull the stroller out from under the bumper, I started screaming about the car hitting my kid. (That was probably the most terrifying second and a half of my life. You can imagine what flashed through my head.) Then the palabrotas began.
With a crying baby strapped to me and a stunned toddler sitting in the stroller, I yelled in a colorful manner various versions of: car service cars are always backing up down the street, what does he think he's doing backing up on a one-way street, I was crossing at the crosswalk, my kids had better not be hurt, car service guys don't care about the residents they serve, blah blah blah.
I don't think the car service man was malicious. I don't even think he was particularly negligent. He explained he has children as well. He was so sorry. Are they alright. (In his nervousness he was smiling and trying to stop the baby's crying. Don't do that.) He was doing what the car culture of this block does. Yeah, I'm pissed off at him. Yeah, I think he was being careless. However, as angry as I am (maybe was) at this guy, I realized that mini-versions of this happen all the time. It's not a unique situation, and it's not something we cannot change.
That brought me back to the traffic calming issues we've been dealing with forever. A stop sign would not have changed this particular situation, but perhaps a painted crosswalk would have been a visual reminder to the driver that people cross into the park here. Look again.
So this morning, while my baby girl napped, I wrote to my friend Marty Markowitz to remind him about the traffic calming we have desired for so long. Perhaps a brush with injury will be enough to get something for our street here. Let's hope that it's not something more serious that draws attention to the need for traffic calming around the park.
So anyway, is anyone up for painting a few crosswalks ourselves?
Enjoy the weather, enjoy the park. Cross with extreme caution.
And, for good measure, here's the link for the traffic calming petition.