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home : columnists : columnists March 26, 2015

10/4/2013 9:06:00 AM
Bits from Betsy

As we grow older, risky behaviors like cave exploring, bar hopping, and internet shoe shopping, are left behind. Not that I've done all those things, of course. My risk limits were tested by exceeding the posted speed limit, and leaning out my second story window to get the smudge off the corner of a glass pane. You know, living on the edge!

Well, if you are seeking heart-stopping adventure, if you yearn for the old adrenaline rush of a near-death experience, just gather that courage and cross the street at the intersection of 4th and Main Street in downtown Cannon Falls.

That's the intersection with the traffic light, and the newly installed walk lights that count out the seconds as you scurry across the street.

It should be the safest place to cross a street in Cannon Falls. All the hardware is there to make for a safe journey from corner to corner, complete with a friendly male voice that encourages you to go ahead and walk. The message tells you to walk, then says something like, "better yet, run!"

Easy for him to say. He has not, and never will, feel the brush of a bumper against the hem of his skirt as he sprints across the intersection. He has not heard the roar of the high-rider trucks as they rev engines in anticipation of the green flag, er, light. He has not felt the anxiety experienced by the pedestrian who tries to decide if the car turning right on red actually sees them, or has a blind spot as big as Iowa, totally blotting them from view.

I cross 4th Street fairly often. It just goes with my job here at the Beacon. It's hard to work just one side of the street. How can I focus my zeal for Beacon advertising only on the west side of 4th street? What if the Chamber of Commerce office needs my assistance or I have over-due library books? Do I say, "Sorry, the traffic is heavy today, and I have this overwhelming fear of crossing the street."

All of us who work downtown and venture into crosswalks have had close calls. The neon flags were supposed to help, but other than using them to hit the hood of a threatening vehicle, they didn't offer much protection.

I feel safer taking my fate into my own hands and crossing in the middle of the block. I'm not sure if this is legal or not, but it seems worth the risk. However, since cross I must, it's best to take a deep breath, gather my courage and get out there.

Seriously, I am grateful that I haven't been hit. I am also grateful that the numerous folks who have lost the crossing battle have survived to walk another day.

I have also driven through the intersection many times in my vehicle. The sun in the afternoon makes it difficult sometimes to see pedestrians crossing from the Carnel Realty side of the street. There are times when pedestrian indecision makes it tempting to go ahead and turn, but check those blind spots, they can easily hide a person, another vehicle or a child on a bike.

Driving around Cannon Falls has been a challenge this summer and will continue to be so until all the projects MnDOT has planned for us are completed. Let's help each other out. Slow down, hang up, don't text and drive . . . help your neighbor get home - or back to the office - safely.



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