July 21, 2006 - Crossing on the Ed
When you push your shopping cart back to the store, even when nobody is watching, you’re showing good character. You could just get in your car and drive away, but then someone else would have to push your cart back for you. Taking responsibility for you’re your cart is the right thing to do.
It’s a slightly different situation when you’re walking on the street, and you come to a red light. Even if no cars are coming,
should you wait for the light to turn green, or cross when safe? Either way, it will matter less to the world than a butterfly flapping its wings a continent away – that is, of course, if you were correct in your assessment of safe.
In the shopping cart decision nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t return the cart. If someone is looking at you, the only punishment might be temporary disdain. When considering your red light action, whether other people are watching matters a lot, particularly if one of those people happens to have a badge and a pad for writing tickets – especially in Santa Barbara where they love to write tickets.
Yesterday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com was strategically located on the corner of State and De La Guerra to see how much a red light means to pedestrians around here.
De La Guerra was a great location for this experiment because cars rarely come down that street, and crossing is safe for much of the red light cycle.
Lately De La Guerra has been getting a little more traffic, you know with the daily noontime New-Press rally/press conference in the Plaza. Just how many black outfits do those reporters own?
For yesterday’s survey we took a seat on the step in front of the Juicy store and let the games begin. Most pedestrians stopped and waited at the red light. Even when De La Guerra was as quiet as a street in Goleta, they stopped and smelled the coffee (or smoothie depending upon which side of the street they were on) waiting for their green to come true.
Of course, there were a few flagrant law-breakers who did a quick look-and-go. Sometimes, to avoid being pedestrians crossing against a red light, they would change their course,
veering a little outside the crosswalk toward the mid-block. Then, they would only be pedestrians who were jaywalking. Maybe it’s an easier wrap to beat.
We saw a few people start to cross against the red but not go the distance. Like runners leading off first base, they’d wait there for the green light from the base coach. One runner made it all the way to the yellow line in the middle of the street before turning back.
When a group of walkers approached a red light, it was often the case that one eager member of the gang would begin to cross on red, but would be pulled back to the curb by the law-abiding collective consciousness of the majority.
Yesterday, we found that 9.3% of pedestrians, faced with the choice of waiting for the green or go when safe, chose to go. The closest guesser in yesterday’s contest was Cafe64. Café won’t need to cross any roads to pick-up his/her Edhat t-shirt. We deliver every Friday, except maybe today because we might be stuck at the beach.
Contestant Comments - by the way we DID count the number of times people pushed the walk button!
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