Government Letters to the Editor Reader Contributed

Letter: Give Them a Hand

We-Ha.com welcomes Letters to the Editor from the public, including endorsements. Letters submitted by political candidates will be considered for publication up to 14 days prior to an election and most will be published within 48 hours of receipt. Letters that contain personal attacks or include profanity of any type will not be published. Rebuttals to letters should be submitted as a separate document, and commenting on letters will no longer be permitted. Please provide your full name and town, as well as your phone number at the end of the letter. Phone numbers will not be published but are required in case verification is needed. Please submit letters to [email protected].

Dear Editor:

The simple act of crossing a street in West Hartford can be a fraught experience. It is pretty straightforward if you are attempting to cross at an intersection that offers a pedestrian walk cycle. You simply press the button and wait for the white pedestrian light to appear. Although motorists are supposed to yield to pedestrians at this time, it is prudent to check both directions and make sure that all motorists have stopped before entering the crosswalk.

On the other hand, you can literally risk your life when crossing the street in a crosswalk that lacks a traffic signal.

Many pedestrians are unaware of the rules for safely crossing the street in this situation. To do so, a pedestrian should step to the curb at the entrance to the crosswalk and indicate their intention to cross the roadway by raising their hand or arm toward oncoming traffic. I find it helpful to slowly raise and lower my arm because the motion is more visible to motorists. It is extremely important that the pedestrian not enter the crosswalk until they are certain that all motorists have stopped in both directions.

By law, motorists are required to yield to a pedestrian attempting to use a crosswalk, but sadly, many motorists are unaware of this, or choose to simply ignore it. Distracted drivers may not even notice a pedestrian waving their hand at the edge of a crosswalk.

So the first use of the hand is to signal your intent to use the crosswalk. The second use, and you will not find this in the state statutes, is one that I employ as I am walking through the crosswalk. I give a hand signal – a wave, a thumbs up, perhaps a peace sign – to the motorists on both sides of the crosswalk. By doing this I am thanking them for stopping, and I am creating a community connection, which is so difficult to do when the vehicles are moving. I send a signal that we are all members of one shared community, and we are all responsible for keeping each other safe.

My hope is that through these small interpersonal encounters, carried out by residents across our community, we can eventually establish a culture of road safety and interdependence in West Hartford.

Edward Pawlak

Chair, West Hartford Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Translate »