Los Angeles Times

Mailbag: I brake for just about everyone

Marylou Spires, I feel your frustration regarding the issues you have with pedestrians and the excessive speed of many motorists ("Jaywalking law needs to be enforced, June 19).

I see "near misses" every day as a pedestrian and as a motorist. There is also the ongoing debate about bicyclists and exactly what their responsibilities are while sharing the road with motorists.

If you acquaint yourself with the current Department of Motor Vehicles handbook and research the information that is available, you will be hard-pressed to find any mention of "jaywalking" among the rules and regulations with reference to the rights of pedestrians.

In fact, I will go a step further and state that as a pedestrian, if I were cited for "jaywalking," I believe I could get a "pass" on this simply by referring to the section of the DMV handbook concerning pedestrians and crosswalks.

Here is an excerpt:

"A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic.

Most intersections have a pedestrian crosswalk whether or not there are painted lines on the street.

Most crosswalks are at corners, but they can also be in the middle of the block.

Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. Yellow crosswalk lines may be painted at school crossings.

Most often, crosswalks in residential areas are not marked.

Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, he or she is ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian."

So, Marylou, it seems that no matter where a pedestrian chooses to cross, we as motorists must yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian. It does seem to me that this entire issue of pedestrians, marked and unmarked crosswalks, has been painted with a very broad brush, and one has to wonder what the responsibility of the pedestrians is in securing their own safety besides "making eye contact."

Whatever one's definition of "jaywalking" may be, it appears that if we follow the DMV handbook, citing a pedestrian for this infraction may be somewhat challenging and may explain why law enforcement shies away from issuing these citations.

Bicyclists, on the other hand, are required by law to follow the same rules and regulations of motorists. Not surprisingly, most of the bicyclists I encounter on a daily basis do not. Even adults with young children do not heed the rules of the road.

They do not obey all traffic signals and stop signs, usually blowing right through an intersection when they determine it is safe to do so regardless of the posted signs or signals. They seldom signal their intentions to motorists and very often do not ride single file on busy or narrow streets. And yes, sometimes they are pedaling down the sidewalk, and if someone exits a business, hold on to your hat, because someone will go splat!

My personal philosophy for dealing with all this urban insanity is simple. I assume that I am sharing the road with morons, many of whom are uninsured, unlicensed and quite possibly have not been driving for too many years, or have been driving too many years.

I try to avoid young women behind the wheel of SUVs, a car where the driver's head cannot be seen, motorists who have been driving for eight blocks with the turn signal flashing and pickup trucks that are overloaded with recycling materials.

I brake for pedestrians regardless of where they choose to cross the street, I brake for both men and women with children, I brake for skateboarders, I brake for nervous squirrels, noshing pigeons, peanut-swilling crows, cats, dogs and buff men without shirts jogging or jaywalking.



Disgusted by dog droppings

My wife and I stay in Burbank every year when we come to the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Getting out in the morning for some exercise and air, we came upon the walkway along Chandler in the old rail row.

Each year we marveled at the cleanliness and the conscientiousness observed by the dog walkers picking up behind their pooches. So we were quite dismayed this year to not only see considerable excrement piles on the grass, but also some booby traps on the sidewalk as well. What a disappointment to see this marvelous facility besmirched by carelessness or indifference.

Let's hope that neighborhood peer pressure will positively affect the behavior of these owners and restore the pristine condition to which we had become accustomed and which the neighborhood deserves.


Laurel, Md.???

Column on water perpetuated myth

In today's Burbank Leader, Richard Tafilaw makes some good points about the preciousness of water, but he reveals himself to be a poor student of history and an enemy of the facts when he describes William Mulholland and the way that Los Angeles (not Burbank, by the way) acquired water and land in the Owens Valley.

Tafilaw's assertion in his June 16 column, "On The Contrary: Irresponsible watering reigns," that Mulholland and "his gang of thieves" swindled and bribed and stole the water from the Owens Valley, is unsupported by the historical record.

While it is true that Fred Eaton, a former mayor of Los Angeles, did not reveal his full intentions to Owens Valley residents when he was buying land and water rights and options on land and water, there is no record of him or anyone else using false names, bribery or thievery. Every purchase of land or water, whether made by Eaton or later by Los Angeles, was legal, and none involved bribery or duress.

The idea that any actual theft took place in the story of Los Angeles and the Owens is a hoary, worn-out urban myth that deserves to fade away, and it was disappointing to see it repeated in the Leader.



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