Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014
I see them a lot lately — pedestrians hoofing it in the street here in Elkhart.
The sidewalks fill up with snow or are otherwise slick and difficult to maneuver, so pedestrians turn to the streets to get around. It's not just quiet side streets either. I'm thinking more of busy roadways, where it's more dangerous.
I've seen it on north Cassopolis Street, which doesn't have sidewalks to start with. Once, I saw a couple of young men walking down the center turn lane, casual as can be, traffic whizzing by on either side. Probably safer there than trying to walk in one of the traffic lanes, adjacent to the curb, which I've also seen.
Still, it doesn't seem to be the smartest thing in the world, mixing it up with cars going 40, 45 mph. On the other hand, if you have to walk along Cassopolis Street, there aren't many options — trudge through the accumulated snow on the side of the street or cross your fingers and try the roadway.
Going to and fro work each day, it's almost inevitable that a walker will be in Prairie Street, just north of Waterfall Drive near the bridge over the Elkhart River. That's behind the Martin's Super Market off Jackson Boulevard. The picture at the top of the blog is one of those walkers, who I encountered on Monday. I saw the two people in the picture to the right walking in Waterfall Drive, headed to the Social Security office there.
The sidewalk over the west side of the bridge there is actually cleared, somewhat. It's not perfect, mind you, but I know crews have been there. Whatever the case, I guess the cleared asphalt of the roadway is more of a draw to walkers, even if it means hoping motorists see you and give you plenty of berth.
The city has an ordinance, requiring property owners to clear the snow in front of their homes and businesses (look here and here for more info). Even so, it's not really applicable to Cassopolis Street, where there's no sidewalk to clear, or Prairie Street by Waterfall Drive, which is cleared, at least partially.
All I say is be careful, pedestrians, get your shoes a bit snow-covered if need be and keep out of busy roads. To motorists: Keep your eyes open.
Tim Vandenack is a reporter at the Elkhart Truth newspaper. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-296-5884. Visit him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack.