City Will Install Crosswalk Countdown Clocks to Keep Us "Safe"

Crossing the street doesn't have to be a game of chance and skill.
Crossing the street doesn't have to be a game of chance and skill.

Ever have that embarrassing experience crossing the street when the orange "Don't walk" hand is flashing (but you don't know how long it's been flashing), and you break into a dead sprint only to realize that someone leisurely walking behind you also made it across -- with time to spare? Awkward.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can shove it because your leisurely, relaxed, less neurotic ways probably make you more prone to getting hit by a car or bike. But very soon, we will be on equal playing fields, because the city is installing countdown timers at 1,500 intersections according to the Daily News.

On Monday, the city's transportation planners released a report that inspired the countdown precaution, and it offers a look at just how dangerous walking in New York really is, according to the Times City Room.

Taxis, it turns out, were no careering menace: Cabs accounted for far fewer pedestrian accidents in Manhattan than privately owned vehicles. Jaywalkers, surely the city's most numerous scofflaws, were involved in fewer collisions than their law-abiding counterparts who waited for the "walk" sign -- although accidents involving jaywalkers are more likely to result in death.

And one discovery could permanently upend one of the uglier stereotypes of the motoring world: In 80 percent of city accidents that resulted in a pedestrian's death or serious injury, a male driver was behind the wheel. (Fifty-seven percent of New York City vehicles are registered to men.)

So now, everyone will be in a dead heat to beat the clock. Five seconds for four lanes? My advice: Let's all do our best to abide by the 10-second rule. And try not to practice the arm-out-mom-stop on strangers. On your marks, get set, go!

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