Darren Doyle, story and photos
If you're looking to cross the street from the Community Center to the Bank of Edmonson County, or vice versa, chances are you'll also have to wait until traffic is clear, even though there's a legal crosswalk at the spot, and has been for years.
According to Brownsville Police Chief Jeff Jewel, it's the only crosswalk in the county that's not located at an intersection. "In larger towns and cities where crosswalks are more common, drivers are used to them and they recognize pedestrians sooner," he said. "It's not that common in Brownsville, and drivers rarely notice pedestrians waiting to cross the street."
By law, pedestrians waiting to cross the street at a crosswalk have the legal right of way, and while officials have to enforce the law, Sheriff Shane Doyle said the main goal here is safety. "Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk is a violation that can earn you a fine, but more importantly, it can get someone seriously hurt or killed."
Chief Jewell said it's also important for pedestrians to be careful and try to position themselves where they can be noticed by drivers. "Make sure drivers can see you, and if you're not going to cross the street, don't hang around near the crosswalk. Sometimes people gather outside the bank or Community Center to talk and drivers don't know if they're trying to cross or not."
As a driver, one of our staff members confessed that they hadn't always stopped for folks at the crosswalk, as it didn't seem that important at the time. We tried a little experiment yesterday from both sides of the crosswalk. It took a total of 17 vehicles to pass before one car finally stopped and motioned for us to move across. For two of those vehicles, we were actually standing partially in the road, not just the sidewalk.
Sheriff Doyle says to watch for the signs, and when you see a crosswalk sign, slow down right then. "The pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way in a crosswalk, and we need everyone to pay attention to foot traffic in Brownsville around the courthouse."
Chief Jewell said he hoped our reminder will just help everyone to pay more attention. "We don't want to impose fines on people for not stopping at a crosswalk," he said. "We want everyone to be safe, that's all."