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Words From Wiser: Be Considerate and Safe

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This topic has been on my agenda for quite some time but given that this weekend will be one of, if not the, busiest traveling times of the year. It will have people driving the roads, visiting stores, and being in public in general. Sadly, this will afford all too many of them the opportunity to put on display their total disregard of consideration, respect for others property and just general human decency.

Sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it? My comment above is because I was recently a victim of such behavior and an observer many forms of it for many years before this.

Although having already been at Walmart one day earlier this week and having judiciously parked my new(er) car far down the lot to keep it protected from scrapes and dings, I had to return to pick up something I had forgotten. Knowing it would be a quick “in and out” I parked in one of the handicap slots (legally) near the store. In that I would not be obstructing the handicap access zone beside me where I was parked, I pulled in about 3 feet away from the vehicle in the closest adjacent spot on my left. When I returned to my vehicle 5 minutes later, the adjacent spot was empty but there was a cart left behind pushed over in front of my car. Upon inspection there was a scrape on the fender where the cart had apparently caromed off it when pushed away from the departed vehicle.

This type of behavior is exactly what I speak of in my earlier opening statement. I believe the characteristic of these, if you will forgive my bluntness, ignorant people, is one or more of the following traits: Ignorance, slovenliness, laziness, inconsideration, disrespect or includes some, or all, of the above.

I do not profess to be perfect, nor indiscretion free, and in my smoking days would flip my cigarette butt out the window. As a youth, or young adult, I am pretty sure I tossed a beer can or two from a moving vehicle, and maybe even at a street sign. BUT, a good measure of those I see practicing the above characteristics now, are well past their youth, so youthful indiscretion cannot be blamed.

When asked how far away I live from Wellsville, in Scio, I reply: “I live one Big Mac and a large order of fries away from McDonalds based on the garbage thrown out of a vehicle traveling route 31 west.” I mow the grass bordering the gravel piles on the County lot and constantly mow over or pick up papers, wrappers, beer and soda cans, and even occasionally various items of clothing.

Laziness is how I classify the acts that result in some of the behaviors referenced above. Discarding trash, cans, bottles etc. 2 or 3 steps away from a receptacle is unexplainable. Most people have trash receptacles at their homes, and could easily keep their garbage with them until reaching home and then deposit them there. Laziness is a contributor when pushing your cart up ahead of your car when you are parked right across from a cart return area.

Inconsideration and disrespect for the safety of others result from discarding glass containers that break on contact and can lead to flat tires or injuries from cuts in lawns, or other mowed areas such as in parks, where children might be playing, or people congregate.

I guess since the increased travel of this Holiday weekend was a co-motivator of this article, I should include “Impatience” to the list of transgressions. I must be the first to plead guilty to said offense. A prime example of this as it relates to travel, traffic and driving, is pulling out into traffic in front of an oncoming vehicle or vehicles. No matter how I try to rationalize or justify my actions by thinking/saying that “the oncoming vehicle is traveling slowly, and I don’t want to be stuck behind it all the way to Friendship”, I am still guilty of acting out of impatience. My wife would be the first to agree with that, as she has often told me. I do however, accelerate up to the speed limit so as to not hold up the following traffic. Having a driver pull out in front of you and then travel 20 miles per hour under the speed limit is a mark against them, as is the other side of that transaction implicating the driver that reacts to a driver pulling out well ahead of them and immediately increasing speed to pull up on their bumper just to try and make a point or appear to have been held up.

Being courteous to other drivers is appreciated and welcome to other drivers, at least almost always. Two examples of the “almost” come to mind due to recent experiences. First was a student driver in a local school’s “driver education” car stopping to let a pedestrian cross the street at a “lighted” crosswalk when the light was green. Glad I was paying attention. Apparently, the driver education instructor wasn’t. The second example is mitigated by the “lack of knowledge” (a more polite way of saying ignorance), of a driver stopping in the middle of a “Round-A-Bout” to let side traffic in ahead of them. This happens all too frequently in Olean. As an aside to that, I think the pedestrian crosswalks at some of these locations are poorly thought out. Traffic is obligated to stop, for crossing pedestrians, at seemingly unsafe locations.

I will end this with one final combined topic, which includes inconsideration and compliance with the established traffic laws, although deemed minor to some. There are two crosswalks for golfers on Route 19 at the Wellsville Country Club. One at a lighted location and one at an unlighted location. At the unlighted location, the crosswalk is dangerously close to a knoll which impairs vision of both the golfers and the drivers. This could stand some safety re-evaluation. The other crosswalk is where some “consideration” would come into play. This crosswalk, at a red/green-lighted crosswalk, allows for a golfer to push a button turning the light red to stop traffic to allow safe crossing both walking or in a golf cart. Visibility in both directions at that crossing is good. I frequently see a single golfer pull up to that crosswalk and push the button to turn the light red when there is only one vehicle in sight in either direction. I don’t know…perhaps that is an “over abundance” of caution, or, once again, perhaps I am just too impatient.

The flashing yellow lights used at the “Round-A-Bouts” in Olean to warn of pedestrians in the crosswalk might be a good addition at the Country Club crossings.

The potentially more serious of the “crosswalk consideration” aspect and existing traffic laws involves the “un-lighted” crosswalks. Traffic is obligated to stop if pedestrians are in the crosswalk. There is a fine line here bordering consideration and legality. Pedestrians typically will hesitate to physically step into the crossing path knowing that to do so would put them into jeopardy from those who uncaringly will not stop for them. Within minutes of writing this last segment I witnessed several cars on Main Street in Belmont, passing a waiting pedestrian, whom I had stopped for. They were either oblivious or just, plain inconsiderate.

Here’s hoping you have, or had, a safe and enjoyable 4th of July, Independence Day, in a kind, considerate, respectful way.

Chuck Wiser, 7/3/21


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