Getting Around Cranberry Township: Common Sense Required
I remember when I moved to Cranberry Township in March 1999. It was a lot different back then. There was a Kmart at the corner of Freedom Road and Route 19, Route 228 was a two lane road, and the Cranberry Connector linking Interstate 79 directly to the Turnpike was merely a dream.
Today, Cranberry Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania is one of the Commonwealth’s fastest growing suburban municipalities. With over 28,000 residents, numerous businesses and shopping centers, and dozens of housing developments, Cranberry Township has evolved into a place for many to call home or travel to work every day. It’s my home too, and I think it’s a great place to live.
But one of the biggest complaints about Cranberry Township I hear from fellow residents and visitors is the traffic on the roads. I don’t think it’s about how many traffic lights we get red, or how long we have to wait at stop signs.
It’s because many of us are in a rush, and as a result, common sense gets thrown out the window. Needless to say, I am absolutely disgusted at the recent reckless and careless driving by a handful of Cranberry Township motorists.
This past weekend was abnormally warm, so I decided to ride my bicycle around the Township. My typical route brings me to Route 19 southbound. As I proceeded south on Route 19, I got the traffic light red at Old Route 19, near Victory Family Church. I was first in line in the right lane, and all but one motorist was in the left lane. When the light changed green, I continued. The motorist behind me immediately began beeping the horn and yelling at me to “get the <expletive> off the road.” While the driver found the time to yell at me out the window and flip me the middle finger in front of her husband and young children, she failed to notice drivers in the left lane providing her gaps to safely change lanes and pass me. This whole problem could have been avoided if the motorist planned ahead, and taken an extra five to ten seconds to change lanes. These types of encounters play out much too often on my bicycle rides, simply because motorists are in a rush and feel that those extra few seconds aren’t worth my safety and theirs.
Yesterday, I had to go shopping for a few things, visit the U.S. Post Office, and drop a package off at FedEx. Traffic was very congested, so I decided to park my car in one spot and walk to the different stores and businesses. Very few motorists used common sense to look for pedestrians crossing Cranberry Square Drive at a marked crosswalk. Many motorists stopped past the thick horizontal stop bar indicating where to stop and check for traffic. Some didn’t even stop at all among dozens of pedestrians, young and old, crossing at the intersection. Perhaps they thought that yielding to pedestrians at marked crosswalks was optional, and stop signs didn’t require a stop either, just to rush and get the closest parking space in front of Walmart.
On my drive back home, I had a motorist try to pass me on the right over the white line via the hard shoulder, make a left turn from a right turn only lane, and then drive through my neighborhood well over the posted 25 mile per hour limit. I observed a second motorist tear up the grass in front of Primanti Brothers on Executive Drive because they were too impatient to wait another ten seconds for traffic in the other lane to move away from the entrance to the right turn lane. Several other motorists on Rochester Road decided to cross the double yellow line and drive on the opposite side of the road towards oncoming traffic so they didn’t get the traffic light red at Route 19 a second time.
We’re not perfect, and mistakes are bound to happen. But simply using some common sense behind the wheel, like taking those extra ten seconds to let someone cross the street, or thinking ahead to correctly use turning lanes provided can make a huge difference for yourself and other road users around you.
With rising gas prices and increased motor vehicle traffic, pedestrian and bicyclist traffic on our region’s roadways is rapidly increasing. Crosswalks on the road are there for a reason. Be sure to yield to pedestrians within those crosswalks. Take the extra two seconds to look both ways at intersections and crosswalks to let someone cross safely. If a bicyclist is ahead, be patient and provide the full four feet of clearance when passing, as required by PA law. Don’t tailgate or cut off bicyclists, and remember that we all have the right to be on the road.
Pedestrians and bicyclists have responsibilities too. When a sidewalk is provided for pedestrians, use it. Bicyclists should remember to ride in the same direction as traffic, stop for stop signs and red lights, signal turns, and comply with all traffic laws just like a car. Leave the sidewalks for pedestrians and bike on the roadway or on the trails.
Using COMMON SENSE on our roads is important. Plan ahead and leave a few extra minutes before your appointments. Use the skills that all of us learned at a young age to look both ways. Stay attentive to pedestrians and bicyclists using the roads, and be respectful to everyone who is just trying to get around. Take the extra ten seconds for traffic to move, instead of buzzing down the shoulder or driving up onto the grass to get the light green at the last second. Obey the speed limits on our local roads to keep everyone safe – they are posted for a reason. And most importantly, keep distractions to a minimum. When your vehicle is moving, PUT YOUR CELL PHONE DOWN!
It’s not worth it to run that stop sign, squeeze past that bicyclist, or pull in front of a pedestrian just to get the best deal at Best Buy, or get that cherished front row parking space at Walmart. Spending an extra few seconds in these driving scenarios improves traffic flow, decreases public frustration, and promotes a safe transportation network in our community.
And most importantly, you may end up saving a life.