In just a few trips through town this weekend, we witnessed several close calls.
A man carrying groceries started across Munson Avenue at the crosswalk at Fair Street to Northwestern Michigan College on Monday afternoon. He had the light.
A car, turning right off Fair Street, came within an inch of his back heel and continued on, oblivious.
The man went ghastly pale as the car stirred the air around him. Too burdened by packages and a case of beer to shake a fist or raise any other salute, he sputtered and shook through the intersection.
A few miles down, a woman riding her bike on the sidewalk the wrong way on a one-way street, was almost flattened by a car pulling out of a parking lot whose driver was not looking her way.
A squawk of brakes another few blocks down as a car edged out into traffic. Some cars had stopped for it, keeping a space at the intersection that the squawker hadn’t observed.
The numbers of people on our streets and sidewalks swell this time of year. Road construction funnels us together in close proximity. Bikers, walkers, dogs, strollers, scooters, and wheeled contraptions of all sorts take to the streets, sidewalks and alleys.
Many people are new to the area, and have a tendency to stop suddenly when getting their bearings. Locals like us get used to our routes, and drive complacently on auto-pilot.
Add to this the number of distractions now in all of our cars and budded to our ears, and close calls get closer.
The only way to make some space is to — as Grand Traverse 911 would say — slow our roll. It’s summer, the season we’ve waited for, so why not slow down and enjoy it.
When you’re driving, always check your mirrors before turning. Look both ways — even on a one-way street — before crossing. Use signaling devices, giving people plenty of notice to your next move. Leave some space between cars so you can survey the whole scene.
If you’re riding, wear bright, reflective colors and use lights and strobes on your bike or person.
To summer in Traverse City means keeping your head on a swivel.
Our town’s namesake means to “travel across or through.” Let’s make sure everyone travels across our communities through the summer safely.