Monday, January 22, 2007


The moonlight tower I chose was on 22nd and Nueces. The first thing I saw was the pedestrian crosswalk. Two white lines painted on the street. Something so simple and 2 dimensional wouldn’t seem that important at a glance. But I thought as I walked across, that everyone at that moment, by car, bike or foot, gives their whole attention to the crosswalk while passing through that intersection.

It is the law of course for pedestrians to cross within the lines and for cars to stop before the first white line. The standard of this “custom” only strengthens the insecurity felt by the person or group of persons who created this law while experiencing their walk through intersections.

I felt secure while walking on the sidewalk because of course cars are not allowed on them nor can they fit. There was never a chance feeling that I would get hit by a car on the sidewalk. As I approached the intersection of 22nd and Nueces and saw that no cars were around, the crosswalk was like an extension of the sidewalk into the street. It gave me a sense of security while crossing. If there were no lines painted, the experience would have felt quite insecure, constantly worrying about getting hit by cars.

The lines, I thought, also introduced the system of stop lights and stop signs. These signs are for the pedestrians, for me and everyone else – to give us a chance to cross without harm. When a car drove up to the stop sign and saw that I was waiting to cross, he allowed me to cross. This split second of interaction between me and this stranger in the car created unconsciously a language between us. It was like we both knew that he was to stop and I was to cross – no dispute about it. It was definite.

As time passed on, I observed a couple walk down the same street. They were totally engrossed in their own conversation that they didn't even see me only glimpsing the passing cars ahead of them. The approaching car stopped, then the couple crossed the street without any sign of insecurity. The moment passed by so quickly and smoothly like it was a habit. It seemed so effortless.

But then I thought, how hard is it to cross a street? It’s something no one would think about. But in the depth of it, a crosswalk is not just two painted lines. It’s a transportation and security system. It acts as a conduit for people and cars to travel from one street to another.


Kayla said...

It's really interesting that two lines in the road without any sort of signage or explanation automatically hold meaning for us as part of our culture. I think there can also be parallels to our conversation about tagging as rebellion against the norm. How many people ignore the crosswalk, or any traffic sign, because it is placed in an attempt to provide control? Even walking across the street "unprotected" is a small instance of rebellion.

creighton said...

It's funny how such seemingly insignificant markings can be so profoundly ingrained into our consciousness. They are after all only paint on pavement, but they carry so many taboos and expectations with them. Have you ever been on a completely deserted street and crossed the double orange lines to the left side just for the hell of it? It feels like you're doing something fundamentally wrong. Even if you were the only living person on the planet, you would probably still drive on the right.

Lauren B. said...

I found the idea that the crosswalk, and in essence many of our traffic laws, are an extension of conversation to be really interesting. Creighton also makes a great point which parallel's Kayla's, pointing out the sense of rebellion simple painted lines can stir. In reality it's just reflective paint, and yet, traffic markings are so ingrained into our minds as law.

Jenny said...

i agree with much with what the others had said, to think that people are found only where they are comfortable. its interesting how quickly we forget the reasons for our own daily routine and accepts them without a sense of doubt or challenge.