Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hennepin and 5th St is a Treacherous Gamble

Location: Hennepin Ave & S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402, USA
There's a terrible tendency in Downtown West, and I don't mean the 60% rise in violent crime.

Driving northbound on Hennepin Avenue, traffic comes up to 5th St, along which runs the LRT. Traffic stops and waits for the LRT to pass, then it sits there: three lanes of traffic, one turning left and two going straight. There's a dedicated left-turn light for the left-turn lane, but it doesn't always trigger. While inconvenient, it doesn't mean the turn lane can create hazardous situations, though the people in it think it does.

It's quite common to see a car pull into the intersection as soon as the light turns green. They're trying to beat the three lanes of oncoming (southbound) traffic, of course, and sometimes they get away with it. Sometimes, however, they're held up by pedestrians in the intersection, people just crossing the street or leaving/going to the LRT. That means they're also held up in three lanes of traffic, but sometimes they just push through.

This girl nearly drove into a crowd of pedestrians, and if I hadn't leaped back she would've driven into me. She had no interest in waiting for people to get out of the way—she simply plowed through and expected everyone to defend themselves. Her expression was one of confusion, as though she couldn't understand why society didn't simply allow her to race through an intersection, pull out in front of three lanes of oncoming traffic, and have all the pedestrians clear out of the way for her. Where was the sympathy? Where was the community? What about her needs?

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