The other day, while I was out on a work-related field review, I was walking on the sidewalk and watched a young boy of maybe 8 to 10 years old try to cross the street.

He pushed the button at a clearly marked crosswalk to activate the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon, similar to the one in the photo, and waited to cross the street. After two vehicles failed to allow the boy to cross, despite the flashing lights, I decided to help him out.

A pedestrian uses a crosswalk equipped with the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon. Courtesy photo

I was wearing a bright green safety vest and as an adult, thought the drivers might see me and yield so that the boy could cross the street. With that, I stepped out into the street, making sure my intent to cross the street was known. The driver did not appear to be slowing down, so I looked directly at them and pointed to both the flashing lights of the beacons and the young boy, still clearly visible and standing there on the sidewalk with his bike waiting to cross the street.

Only then did the driver slow down and stop to let him cross. The boy thanked me, along with the rest of his family that was following closely behind him, and they finally all crossed the street safely.

It was very disturbing to watch these drivers ignore both the boy, waiting at a clearly marked crosswalk, and the highly visible flashing lights. This young boy did all the “right” things, but it was the drivers who did not understand, or chose to ignore, the rules of the road.

Maine law states that operators must yield to pedestrians “crossing within a marked crosswalk or to a pedestrian who has shown visible intent to enter the marked crosswalk.” Please keep this in mind as you are driving, especially as warmer weather arrives and more people are out walking and bicycling.

Here are a few additional safety tips to keep in mind:

· Be alert and reduce speed in areas with crosswalks.

· Yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, even if flashing beacons or other type of flashing light, is not activated.

· Yield, slow down, and stop if a pedestrian is crossing within a crosswalk.

Tony Grande is chair of the Transportation Subcommittee for Age Friendly South Portland and also serves on the South Portland Bike-Ped Committee.

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