Have you noticed the new style of crosswalks that are being put in around town? These newly marked crosswalks have high contrast white paint against deep black paint so that they are more visible. At first I hated them. I thought they were overly garish, harsh in this jarring contrast between the painted black and white. They reeked of overreaction to me.
In the Nanny State that has become our country, I thought there ought to be at least a modicum of protectionist restraint and a dash of personal responsibility left to our citizens. After all, if we are told we are the smartest, most productive, most creative country on the planet, wouldn’t it stand to reason that we could handle a simple task like walking safely across a street? The answer, evidently, is no.
No matter how capable we may be in some areas, there are those amongst us who seem to display an insufficient ability to take care of themselves, so we as a society must create and adapt to make up for the deficiencies of others. Hence more visible crosswalks for those driving cars.
Yes, the crosswalks are there not for the walker, but for the distracted and sometimes brain-dead drivers who need to be alerted that there may be a human being walking in front of them and their car should stop.
Theoretically the same increased visibility was behind the push for “green ways” on Ocean Park Boulevard for the bike riders. Those are decidedly garish, obnoxious and I have not grown to tolerate them well, which is probably precisely the point. By being so bright and unnatural, they stand out and give protection to the bike riders.
I write this with the full awareness that the increased visibility is objectively a good thing and that I have been guilty of being distracted (and maybe an opposing counsel or two in family court thought I was brain dead) and perhaps encroached into a crosswalk or bike path lane when I shouldn’t have.
Part of being human is making mistakes. We are all going to trip up some time, and that’s why insurance industries exist, and personal injury lawyers, and emergency rooms. The point is not that life is risk free, but that we can and should minimize the big risks where we can with minimal effort.
If we wanted to truly limit risk we’d outlaw letting people jog with headphones on, and we’d mandate that pedestrians wear safety vests just like the construction workers do. There’s probably a good half dozen other very logical suggestions that could be made to protect the public from itself (in addition to turning off the television set). Obviously I’m joking, but doesn’t it sort of make sense?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we’re 23 times more likely to get in an accident if we’re texting while driving. The latest billboards about the topic read “Stop The Texts/Stop The Wrecks,” as if there was a real possibility of ending car accidents. Nothing can eliminate accidents, but we can do our best to limit exposure to accident causing situations.
These new crosswalks took a bit of getting used to, but I can say now that I am happy to see the Nanny State making improvements in public safety. I often like to pick on the government. I think that is the job of the press, and as a citizen it is a duty to make my voice heard.
As judgmental creatures, we are quick to make assumptions and determinations and we often state our opinions without the strength of full knowledge. How often do we look at someone and make a judgment call as to what their life is like, who they are as a person and how they will treat us? I do it all the time. I’m happy that I’m growing up enough to learn that my first thoughts are not always correct, and I can see the benefits in things that I at first thought a stupid waste of money.
David Pisarra is a divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.