Friday, May 22, 2009

Look Both Ways on a One-Way Street

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.


McSquare said...

I'm up for painting crosswalks if you're serious about it.

My version of looking both ways.
In Manhattan Chinatown, I was getting ready to cross a one way street with cars traveling from my right to left. Like you I have a habit of looking both ways no matter what. I didn't see any vehicles traveling down this one way street so I started to cross but as I stepped out of the street and started to look the other way a car was driving up this one way street in the wrong direction. The driver of the car didn't even panic nor showed any guilt of his wrong doing. He looked at me like I wasn't suppose to cross the street without looking. I thought he could be a city employee of some sort in an unmarked car. He didn't even honk to warn me that he's coming up in the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...

Petition signed. Hope you are calming down yourself. Not sure if you drink on occasion, but I would say you certainly deserve a shot of something right about now.

Anonymous said...

Dear god SPB, have you finally had your moment of enlighenment? By all means, get out there NOW while you're still angry enough and paint that crosswalk! Take plenty o' photos, and post 'em. While it's unlikely to control the lunatic driving in SP, it'll certainly help liberate you from the corrosive psychological effects of city living. Seriously. You'll be amazed at what a little direct action can accomplish.

Unknown said...

What a terrifying incident! I agree that something needs to be done about the car service culture in SP; I'm constantly seeing them pull all kinds of crazily illegal and idiotic moves.

Unrelatedly, I'm on the Steering Committee for SPDOG, which is the Sunset Park Dog Owners Group, and I'd love to have an email conversation with you about hopefully maybe putting an upcoming public hearing (visit our site to learn more) on your calendar for the proposed (and long overdue!) dog run for Sunset Park.

I'd love to get it mentioned here at BViB - I've long relied on your site as one of the few reliable and interesting blogs about the neighborhood! I don't see a contact button anywhere on the site; would you mind shooting me a quick email at sunsetbark at gmail? We even have a JPG of our flyer if you want to put it up - we could really use the help and the publicity and it's a great, great cause!

Thanks, and glad you and the tots are safe!

Vanessa said...

If nothing else, perhaps we can get a few speed bumps! Glad to hear the babies are safe.

green light said...

That must have been terrifying. And you were totally within your rights to unleash wrath on the driver. If nothing else, it will make him think before the next time he does it.

Unknown said...

Glad to hear you and your little guys are ok! How frightening. I would have cursed at him too.

Shannon said...

Unbelievable. I've had several incidents with cars, car services, random jerks trying to park at the hydrant while my dog is "curbing." I've given each and every one of them a verbal lashing that will leave scars for years. If I'd had a child and this happened, I'd be typing from a jail cell. I've also contacted Marty Markowitz and my local police precinct about cars parking at hydrants (a bit off topic). I don't care if you can more your car, I don't want to wait the precious seconds while you do when my apartment is burning down!