Ann Arbor is an interesting place to live in a lot of ways. Opportunities to hear magnificent music, great restaurants, lots of art (some interesting, some beautiful, some just stupid, in my humble opinion :-)...the community has a lot to offer.
Pedestrian traffic, however, is not one of its advantages. Around the university driving is a nightmare. It really is. I have been dropping my daughter off at campus each morning and it terrifies me. As soon as you get to the streets around campus, State Street in particular, the pedestrians seem to be unable to see cars. I feel like I'm driving under an invisibility cloak. Students cross wherever they want. They cross diagonally. They come out from between parked cars. They literally will walk right in front of your car without even looking up. They're like toddlers who have not been taught that streets are dangerous.
I'm an attentive driver. I focus on my driving. But what I'm used to doing is watching very closely all the cars around me, the traffic signs, etc. I associate driving with these actions. I think everyone does. But on State Street it's equally important, if you don't want to kill someone and I don't, to watch all the pedestrians anywhere near you, the ones on the sidewalks as well as those who may pop out from between two cars. You never know when they're going to appear on the street in front of you. And there are hundreds of them. Sometimes they run out ....without even looking. It's as though you must assume that every student at U of M has no knowledge of cars and what they can do.
There is about a four block stretch where I am literally turning my head 90 degrees, back and forth, all the time. First the sidewalk on my left, then the street, then the sidewalk on my right. And I have to keep doing this, rather rapidly, over and over again. I go quite slowly because if a car stops suddenly in front of me I may not notice it for a second or two, so focused am I on the pedestrians about to walk out in front of me.
It's like one of those computer games or hand held games where you have to keep rapidly dodging the bombs or whatever they are that are coming at you. I hate those games too.
Anyway, God bless these pedestrians. May they stay safe. And may the Lord keep my eyes wherever they need to be, to see whatever I need to see.
One more piece of advice to give to our college bound students. Wherever you go to school, regardless of the tone of the community you will be living in, don't forget that cars are big and heavy and dangerous. Having the legal right of way as a pedestrian does not in any way guarantee your safety if you walk in front of a car. Use good judgement. Don't walk in front of a car unless it is stopped and the driver has made eye contact with you. You'll still get where you're going plenty fast enough.