A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.
Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the great Northwest, including Seattle, Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia. It had been years since I had been in Canada. In fact, the last time I stepped foot in “America’s hat,” I was still a teenager and not able to pick up on the subtle differences between our countries.
One thing that I noticed this time around is that pedestrians are treated pretty darn well up there. It would not be an exaggeration to say that you simply have to put a foot into the crosswalk to make the cars around you slam on the brakes. It’s a mighty powerful feeling – one that I usually don’t have here in Wauwatosa.
Vancouver is a big walking town. Our cab driver even made a comment that this is the reason that Vancouver girls are attractive because everybody walks everywhere – i.e. physical fitness is gained in daily activities instead of trips to the gym. Interesting.
I know that Vancouver is WAY larger than Wauwatosa, but I couldn’t help but compare the way that pedestrians are treated there vs. the way they are here. Take, for instance, the crosswalk in front of Café Hollander and Noodles on State Street in the Village. You take your life in your hands when you cross that street. Sometimes cars do stop and wait for pedestrians, but mostly it’s the pedestrians doing the stopping and waiting.
Ever since my trip to Canada, I think we would be wise to revisit our laws protecting pedestrians. Here in Tosa, we’re doing a nice job of building a community, especially in the Village, that encourages walking. In fact on a sunny Saturday morning, you can see lots of people walking through the village after visiting the Wauwatosa Farmer’s Market.
I think our laws should lean toward protecting the pedestrians instead of clearing the roadways for drivers to speed to their destinations. I think we should have more yield pylons in the middle of intersections such as State Street to encourage drivers to slow to a crawl and look out for pedestrians.
The more “walk-friendly” we make Tosa, the more vibrant our community will become. Let’s follow Canada’s example.