Awareness of pedestrian crossing rights needs improving
I was involved in an incident the evening of Thursday, Oct. 2, that still has me flabbergasted. I live on South Cedar Street and was headed to the Square for the Music on the Square finale. I was using my power chair as I can only walk a short distance.
As I came to Austin, the eastbound lanes were clear and I proceeded to cross. There was westbound traffic, but as I neared the center it was slowing to a stop so I continued across without stopping. After I had crossed, the driver of the car in the northernmost lane pulled into Cedar Street and straddled the yellow center line, stopped her car and got out.
She came over to me, yelling and screaming all the way. She shouted that it was illegal for me to cross Austin there and that I should be arrested. She called me names and said many other obscene and profane things and began to physically attack me. I blocked her blows and she attempted to kick me, but was prevented by a tote bag I carried at my feet.
When she backed off a bit, I started north on Cedar Street and she got back into her car, rolled the window down and continued to verbally harass me as she drove alongside. She called the police and complained and an officer responded in a short amount of time.
What really flabbergasted me was the officer's attitude. He told me I had to cross at Washington Street where there was a traffic signal. To think in this day and age a police officer could lack understanding of such a basic law. Missouri Revised Statutes are quite clear that pedestrians may cross at intersections, even if there aren't any marked crosswalks. The relevant statute reads:
Pedestrians' right-of-way in crosswalks. 300.375. 1. "When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger."
Another thing that bothered me about the officer's suggestion is that the sidewalk leading to Washington Street is unpassable to people in chairs due to a narrowing of the walkway. How are you supposed to make it to the light if you can't get past the obstacles? The city of Nevada owes it to its citizens to be diligent in removing such obstacles and making such changes a priority.
The city also needs to make citizens aware that every citizen, whether they are disabled or not, have the same rights.