There is a zebra crossing just near to my workplace, on Water Lane in Leeds (above). I have to cross it every morning heading into work. I have to cross it every evening heading home. It is a zebra crossing that strikes fear into me every day, thanks to the drivers who use Water Lane.
There are times I have stood, clearly waiting for the traffic to stop – but it doesn’t. I walk onto the crossing and regularly cars on the other side of the road carry on. I have been halfway across and likewise cars have flown past behind me. Some days it’s fine – the traffic stops, I go across, no big deal. But I use this crossing ten times a week at least. I thought I was just being reactionary, but decided to record my experiences from the start of the year.
During the first five working days of this year three of the ten crossings I made were marred by impatient drivers who drove over the crossing while I was clearly still on it. Two other times drivers ignored me waiting to cross.
I am not alone in this fear. It’s an issue for a lot of pedestrians in the area. And there is no need for it to be this bad.
So, here’s a deal. Every morning, every driver that shows the courtesy to stop while I either wait to cross or while I am walking over I will thank. That’s drivers going both ways. And I will show similarly grateful gestures any other time I cross.
And if you don’t stop? I’ll do my best to not get angry, avoid injury, and get your licence plate number – and publish it online.
Most mornings on the walk to work rather than head up to Bridgewater Place and bang right onto Water Lane, I cut off Neville Street early – before the Hilton – and head along the tunnel towards Granary Wharf.
One, it’s a pretty decent break from the wind and rain. Two, it’s a quieter walk than the amble along the main road. Three, there’s a bridge at the far end of the tunnel (before you get to the Hop) that the River Aire flows under.
The river flows down through three tunnels underneath the train station overhead (you can see these in the middle of the Google Map above). On a good day you can see the far end of these tunnels. The bridge where I walk over the river is the culmination of the water’s journey on this subterranean trek, before it heads back out into the open air. It’s compulsive just watching the Aire continue on its determined route.
Today the river was amazingly high, the rushing surface close to the bridge I walk over. A culmination of the recent wind and rain the roar was immense – and exciting. On the home time walk back into town, I peered into the dark tunnels, the visibility of the river diminishing, the strong flow of the water coming out of this darkness. Looking down I watched the river flow, turning around to see it head out into what seemed a quieter, more serene pool outside. The noise behind me was a constant reminder of the force of the river being split into three and being funnelled down through these man-made diversions.
I thought of the immense and busy train station above my head and the train lines through it, cutting across where I was and the river travelled. How many of those people in that hustlin’ and bustlin’ train station at that moment knew about what lay beneath?
How many people knew that underneath them was something could be an awesome kayak run – or better still a secret, urban level of Toobin’?
A bit more digging, and there’s a very cool infographic over at Buzzfeed showing the candidates “ROI in Iowa”.
Some big figures there, huh? What’s furthermore interesting is this information in comparison to the result of the night. Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes. The cost difference between those two is massive. Effectively is the price of victory for Romney here just over four million dollars? What difference would would an increase in Santorum’s spend meant? Enough votes to have snatched victory? $4.6m is a dent in Romney’s campaign budget, but was it worth it?
And looking at the biggest spender, Christ knows what would have happened if Rick Perry hadn’t blown $6m…