When crossing the intersection at Hennepin and Lagoon to go the Walker Library it often feels like “Russian Roulette” because I am never quite sure if the drivers will yield when I try to cross Lagoon. This is especially true once the two lanes of traffic turning right from Hennepin on to Lagoon start flowing.
The advanced “walk” does a great job giving pedestrians who have been waiting at the corner a head start into the intersection. The bad news is that advantage disappears when I or anyone else attempts to cross once the traffic starts flowing.
On a recent afternoon, I got to the intersection just after the turn traffic started moving. The car in the lane closest to the curb saw my intent but the cars in the outer lane didn’t. It felt like they didn’t see me or if they did, then they figured they had time to sneak through before I got to their lane. After waiting as two cars passed quickly I started to wonder if I was stuck in crossing purgatory when a car driver yielded. I gave a wave of thanks and made it across to the other side while shaking my head and mumbling to myself – “Why is this so difficult?” This experience happens quite often and always reminds me that one of these days I could have a “bad one” where I don’t make it to the other corner safely - hence my analogy of Russian Roulette.
Making this same crossing from the south to the north once the traffic has started turning makes me feel like I am playing a game of “chicken” as I try to make eye contact with the drivers to see if they see me in the crosswalk but often they are simply following the vehicle in front of them or are already looking down Lagoon.
I have looked at the intersection from many different angles and wondered about how to improve the pedestrian’s experience. Strange as it might sound, I think I’d be happy to wait a bit longer to cross during the heavy traffic periods, if it meant that the traffic could not turn while I was crossing from the Walker to the corner with John Fluevog. The stress of trying to dance with the turning cars at rush hour just is not worth it.
Hennepin and Lagoon is number 22 on the 2017 Pedestrian Crash Study list of most dangerous pedestrian intersections.
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All photos taken by Cindy Christian.