#StreetSmarts: See and Be Seen
We all know New York is the greatest city in the world, but did you ever stop to think about why?
NYC is the best place to grow up >
— Lilly (@livelove_LILLY) January 10, 2012
Growing up in NYC gives you more real-world interactions and more independence than living in the suburbs.
Think about it: While your suburban friends are getting shuttled around in cars for school and activities, you’re walking, scooting, biking, or taking the bus or subway.
(Fun fact: Having many ways to get around is called multimodal transportation.)
They’re stuck getting driven while you get to observe and interact with the most interesting and diverse collection of people on the planet. It’s a pretty powerful thing.
But remember Spider-Man’s motto:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
— Safe Kids Worldwide (@safekids) October 1, 2014
Here’s how to be a VisionHero for Vision Zero, and how to see and be seen out there on the streets.
City life is fascinating–and distracting
It may only take you a few minutes to get from point A to point B, but a lot can happen if you’re not paying attention. Things you do all day without even thinking can suddenly become unsafe when you’re crossing the street.
Part of being savvy in the city is being smart about the world around you. The city is distracting, and some distractions can be dangerous. And not just dangerous–deadly. You don’t need to be scared, but don’t be stupid either.
Walking and texting
You’ve probably heard that texting and driving is bad. Well, texting and walking can be just as dangerous. Really.
Texting and walking could result in you walking into the boys bathroom. Consider this a warning.
— nutmeg (@meghantweetsnow) February 24, 2015
Every time I'm in NYC, w/o fail, I watch someone get absolutely trucked on a sidewalk/crosswalk because their head is down texting. Amazing
— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) February 10, 2015
Texting while driving is dangerous, but texting while walking is too! Woman just walked over my dog & another dude almost got hit by a car.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) November 24, 2014
People need to stop texting and walking this is NYC… Walk
— Sam Koukoulas (@samantha_kook) September 14, 2015
Texting while crossing the street doesn’t always kill you, but it can cause serious injury. In a study of 1,000 teens, 40% of them said they’ve been hit or nearly hit by a car, bike or motorcycle while walking. (That’s 400 people right there!) Can you guess why?
A girl with her head down texting walked thru the cross walk without looking and almost got hit. Almost saw natural selection in person.
— Kyle Arthaud (@Captain_Merica2) January 30, 2015
And 63% of those teens who were hit said it was normal to cross the street while texting or talking on the phone. When you go around thinking it’s no big deal to raise your risk of getting hit and maybe killed, that’s a problem.
It’s impossible to predict what other cars will do, so look up from your phone and focus on what’s in front of you. Even better: pull off to the side to message and keep going after you’re done.
Walking with earphones
By the way, if you’re wearing earphones while you’re going down the street, you need to be extra careful when crossing the street.
And not just because you might embarrass yourself.
Do you have them songs that you physically can't listen to on your earphones in the street bc you know you'll start singing it
— chloe (@galactichloe) March 19, 2015
So close to getting hit by a car while crossing the street with my earphones on… what's stupid? #neveragain
— Waldo Perfecto (@wperfectox) April 24, 2014
But because you could really put yourself at risk.
Wearing earphones while walking causes what’s called inattentional blindness–meaning that not paying attention can actually be kind of like going temporarily blind. Of 166 people injured while wearing headphones, 81 died. Scary.
I was walking down the street with my earphones on when suddenly gotta be you started playing… then a bus hit me..
— zquad (@mutantkidzap) March 21, 2015
I'm walking down the street tweeting with noise canceling headphones on so I won't hear the car that kills me
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) March 10, 2015
Texting while walking gets a lot of attention, but listening to music is three times more dangerous.
— Safe Kids Worldwide (@safekids) October 7, 2014
Almost just got hit by a car cause I had my music in and couldn't hear it 😂😂😂😅
— The Grinch 🎄 (@AlexiisBolducc) September 10, 2015
If you really really really want to keep listening to your tunes, here are 5 things you can do:
- Use earbuds or earpods instead of noise-cancelling headphones.
- Pop off one earphone or headphone.
- Turn down the volume.
- Look around more carefully.
- Use an app that lets in the sounds around you.
Rushing across the street while the light is turning
Hey, we’ve all done this at some point, right? Please think twice before you do it again.
It’s tempting to cross the street once a signal starts flashing. But it’s not the safest idea. What if you drop something important, like your phone or MetroCard? Will you have time to pick it up before the signal turns?
That flashing hand sign actually isn’t saying “Hurry up!” It’s saying “You might not have time to cross safely.”
Ideally, you should already be in the crosswalk or even nearly across by the time it starts flashing–not just starting to cross.
When the crosswalk sign starts flashing don't walk when your still 20 feet away <<<<<<#powerwalkingtime
— Taylor Musselman (@Tnut13t) September 13, 2012
The thing is, just walking around is a very common cause of death in the U.S. for kids ages 5 to 19. Crossing the street is one of those times when you’re more likely to get into a bad situation.
While crosswalk signs are used to guide you to when it’s safe to cross the street, you make the final decision. It’s up to you to decide if you have enough time to make it safely across, when the red hand starts flashing. Make a smart choice!
And don’t rely on crosswalk buttons. In New York City, not many of the crosswalk buttons actually work. So pushing the button doesn’t mean the light will change right away. Do this: Look both ways before crossing and continue to scan the street as you cross.
Walking at night
During the evening and night, visibility is low. That means it’s harder for drivers–and walkers–to see clearly. Wearing light colored and/or reflective clothing makes you more visible–but no matter what you’re wearing, it’s important to be extra careful and aware of your surroundings.
You (and others!) see half as well, so you need to be twice as careful.
So, especially when it’s harder for cars to see you: Keep your eyes and ears on the street, not your phone or your music.
I started running while it was lightish outside but then I just got to running with my music & it turned dark as I almost got hit by a car😂
— Lauren Ackley (@Lauren_Ackley) August 12, 2013
walked in the road in the dark headphones on loud wearing black not paying attention and looking down, I almost got hit by a car 😳
— Jack Naiper (@LifeAsJUICE) July 5, 2015
Be smart and be safe to see and be seen on the street
It’s awesome to have and use multimodal means to get around NYC.
“Everybody on the streets deserves respect. Before you use the streets you got to check, check.”
Growing up in the city makes you sophisticated and street smart. Use those smarts to stay safe and we’re all good.
Anybody can be book smart its hard to be successful without some kind of common sense and street smarts
— DC (@_teflondonz) March 24, 2015