Quandary: Looking at pedestrian safety on the mean streets of Summit County
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
Can you remind people of crosswalk laws in Summit County?
Walking across the street shouldn’t have to be a death-defying adventure requiring all the courage one can muster, but when local drivers don’t know the laws it can definitely feel that way. In her original email, Samantha described a scenario she recently found herself in when a driver had to swerve across the street to avoid hitting her in the crosswalk. While Samantha and the driver managed to avoid a collision — though the driver did plunk a pole — that’s not always the case, as Summit has seen a number of pedestrian collisions in recent years.
The most basic rule to follow is that vehicles should yield to pedestrians and pedestrians should follow signage to only cross when safe. I know, you have places to be and could probably sneak through the intersection before that little old lady even gets off the sidewalk, but don’t tempt it. After all, the little old ladies here can run laps around most people and you don’t want to deal with any extra guilt or criminal record.
You’ll see a variety of intersections throughout the county, but the same principle applies to all of them: Pedestrians have the right of way if they are in the crosswalk or near enough that a car could present danger. Samantha’s adventure as a potential hood ornament took place on Highway 6 in Keystone. Pedestrians and vehicles along Highway 6 have a bigger turf war than the Jets and the Sharks, resulting in flashing lights being put up following a fatal accident in 2012. If you approach these intersections in a vehicle and see the light, take a hint and stop. The same is true for Swan Mountain Road where flashing lights denote where the bike path crosses the road.
Downtown locations in Frisco and Breckenridge have marked pedestrian crossings, and again, drivers should yield to pedestrians in or near these intersections. Yes, this even means that guy barely off the sidewalk that looks more skittish than a deer at the start of hunting season. Cut the poor lost soul a break and just wait a couple minutes for him to find his way. Just because these intersections don’t have flashing yellow lights, doesn’t make it any more legal to tear through them.
On the other side, if you’re a pedestrian don’t make this a game. The middle of the road is not the place to stop for a photo shoot, nor is it a great location to stop and chat with your neighbor heading in the opposite direction. Also, be aware of your surroundings. If the roads are icy and a car is almost in the intersection, know that there’s a chance they can’t stop. Give the driver a chance and wait until they go through to make your dash. If you are at a stoplight, obey the law. Getting hit while bolting across the road against the sign is completely avoidable. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 5,000 pedestrians die and 70,0000 are injured annually across the nation. So this year avoid becoming a statistic, make sure you make it home and a 16-year-old driver isn’t too terrified to ever get behind the wheel again, and take a breather while you wait to legally cross.
What the heck is skijoring?
Skijoring is the finely-crafted skill of tying yourself to a couple planks and then getting dragged by some type of large animal — hopefully, while upright. In order to do this properly, you’ll need to be slightly above a novice cross-country skier, depending on what animal you are tied to. You see, in some versions of skijoring you are pulled by a horse, which means you need some serious skills because that horse is going to be moving fast, leaving you very little time to make any corrections. This version of the sport is generally best left to experienced skijorers and professionals. It’s a hoot to watch though, and you should definitely check it out if you get the opportunity.
One of the largest skijoring competitions has taken place in Leadville since 1949. In this competition, a horse and rider are paired at random with a skier who they must lead through a course complete with jumps, gates and rings to pick up. The team is then scored for the best time on the course and points are deducted for missed gates and other faults. This sport is extreme enough without too many crazy jumps, so backflips and other tricks are usually accidental, and not rewarded.
There are some other important rules for competitive skijoring, like your rope must be 33 feet long (apparently 32 feet just isn’t exciting enough), and the skier must cross the finish line upright and with at least one ski. Again, showboating won’t get you extra points.
If being thrown through the air whilst trailing a horse doesn’t quite sound like your cup of tea, a simpler option might be skijoring with your dog.
This involves the same basic principles, with your pooch playing the role of horse, and you needing to remain upright (at least one ski and all that). If this sounds a little more doable check with High Country Dogs as they offer skijoring lessons for you and your pup. The only caveat is you must already be able to cross-country ski to be an effective partner for your pooch. Visit their website at SkijorNMore.com for more information.
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