On our recent trip to the Pine Tree State, we stopped in Camden, Maine to visit some art galleries. “Stop Wait Wave” is painted on the sidewalk next to the crosswalks on Camden’s busy main street, substituting for a Walk/Don’t Walk sign.
The painted sidewalk notice is similar to the x-shaped “Stop, look, and listen” signs that you used to see at railroad crossings. In Driver’s Ed class we were taught that you were supposed to stop at the railroad tracks, look both ways to see if the crossing was clear, and then turn off the radio and listen for the whistle of an approaching train before you decided to proceed. The “Stop Wait Wave” signs are based on the same principle, except the “wave” is to ensure that you’ve alerted the oncoming drivers that you’re crossing.
As a committed pedestrian, I’m a big fan of the wave when you cross the street — especially in these days of distracted, texting drivers. In fact, I give the wave even when I’m crossing with a “Walk” sign. The wave is a friendly gesture, and the motion can help to get the driver’s attention. If you wave and you get some kind of wave, nod, smile, or other acknowledgement from the driver in response, you can be pretty sure that the driver isn’t going to proceed into the intersection and knock you down. It’s a sound defensive walking strategy, and it was nice to see that the Camden, Maine authorities agree with my view.
If it were up to me, I’d paint “Stop Wait Wave” on every downtown Columbus crosswalk.