austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Get your motor running

They're doing something in the name of pedestrian safety outside my office's building. I think the main problem with pedestrian safety is the crosswalk is neatly surrounded by a pair of cement columns holding up a pedestrian overpass, so that if you want to walk on the street itself you sneak in from a spot where you can't see the cars and, out of fairness, they can't see you. The crosswalks here are called ``zebra crossings,'' a British usage, which disappointed me to learn about because it turned a Douglas Adams joke -- about where Man got himself killed after using the babelfish to prove God didn't exist -- from a fanciful notion of a theoretical spot where zebras congregate to cross into something mundane.

They've ripped up the pavement, painted new lines, and strewn plastic barriers labelled ``not a barrier'' and over a few days set up a rebar mesh. Now they've filled what were formerly one car lane and the divot for the buses with that white, not-terribly-serious concrete, with blockaded ramps to the road before and after, elevating about four inches from the road and to about an inch or two under the curb level. This way when the bus stops it blocks both traffic directions and you can dash across fifteen feet from the bus stop, because it is raining. I don't want to sound skeptical, but I hope they know what they're doing, since so far they've just made the road complicated, and they're going to work on the bus stop on the other side of the street.

Trivia: The earliest usage of ``walrus'' found for the First Edition Oxford English Dictionary dates to 893. Source: The Meaning of Everything, Simon Winchester.

Currently Reading: Chips off the Old Benchley, Robert Benchley. Ah, bliss. From ``Safety Second,'' about those curious people strangely unable to avoid injury: The very first day [ at the newly safety-conscious paper mill ] Cassidy got flustered and dropped one leg of his trousers in the safety device, with the result that he was caught up in the machine and swashed around until all they had to do was dry him out and they could have printed the Sunday Times on him. In fact, that is just what they did do, and it was one of the best editions of the Sunday Times that was ever run off the presses. It had human interest.


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