Traffic rushes past me as I stand at the truncated dome, ready to cross the road with the start of the next light cycle. No pedestrians stand with me, so there are no clues to go on other than the changing lights that I can make out today and the sound of the traffic.
I focus and wait. I hear cars breaking, and I see the cars stopping at the intersection. Only a moment before I will step off the curb. I stand with my white cane ready. After the light turns green, I will have three seconds until turning cars will enter my lane. I can’t dawdle on the curb.
The white WALK sign appears. I hear the driver of the car in the opposite left turning lane hit the gas. I flick my wrist to move my cane and step into the street in one fluid motion, like an athlete out of the blocks at the sound of the starter’s gun. As I move, I turn my head in the direction of the car and continue to sweep my cane, hoping the person will see me in the crosswalk.
The driver notices me, hesitating until I pass the yellow line. The sedan passes behind me. I feel the air from the moving vehicle brush against my back which always encourages me to seek the safety of the opposite sidewalk. Walking the last half of the crosswalk, I turn my head toward the drivers of the stopped vehicles, focused to listen for a car to drift and turn right on red.
Crossing a street involves making decisions while minimizing risk. I look with my remaining vision, but I rely more on my ears to tell me what I need to know about where and when traffic moves my way.
How do you manage street crossings?