In the past couple of years, downtown St. Paul has become a much busier place. There are more cars, more bikes, more walkers, more dogs, more intercity buses, just…MORE. The result is more and more traveling bodies trying to navigate within a limited network of streets and sidewalks, alleys and intersections. On top of this has been the confusion generated by multiple construction sites and the operation of MTC’s Green Line. What might have been your predictable driving route or crosswalk just a year ago is now fundamentally changed. Hopefully much of this confusion is only temporary and travelers of all types will better know where they stand next summer. Unfortunately, we also continue to read about Minnesota pedestrians who trusted crosswalks at their peril. Drivers will also tell about being illegally cut off by pedestrians darting out in front of them.
It is important to be aware of Minnesota’s pedestrian and crosswalk laws, but the basic infrastructure itself is still open to question. After all, how well can drivers see pedestrians crossing streets? How useful is stopping for a pedestrian at a crossing if other cars blow around you into the path of the pedestrian? How is using a crosswalk with its infinite variables safer than jaywalking in the middle of a block with only two directions of traffic to check for? Or how fair is waiting patiently for a walk signal and realizing too late that you failed to press the “beg button” hidden behind a tree?
If you feel a complaint about a specific traffic problem is justified, you cmay file one with the City of St. Paul, or with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. If you feel you have been unjustly ticketed, you may want to explain your case to a Court Hearing Officer. Most of all, everyone needs to do their part by BEING ALERT, which might mean simply turning off the phone while driving or turning off the portable music when beginning to walk across a street.