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Battling the Children's Crusade

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 7:56 AM

In his novel, Pattern Recognition, William Gibson called the endless adolescent crowds that invade Camden Market in London on Saturdays, the Children’s Crusade.  We, in Lennoxville, have our own Children’s Crusade between 8:00-9:00 every weekday morning.  I’m referring to the parade of young adults who emerge from the houses and apartments on College and Depot Street and trudge across the bridge to the Bishop’s University/Champlain campus.  They brave the College Street crosswalk and dare traffic to stop.  Mostly it does; sometimes it doesn’t.

With time, many of us are getting better at seeing pedestrians who have a right of way that they did not have before.  It was only a few years ago that any one who wanted to cross College had to dash out when no car was coming with the hope that an automobile didn’t just materialize from another dimension.  It should have been an Olympic sport, but unfortunately, there are no medals for courage or agility in outwitting cars.

I should be more sympathetic to the students’ plight but as a motorist, I’m getting testy.  Is it just me or does the traffic on College seems worse now than in years past, and is the crosswalk the cause of the problems?  I have seen joggers run blissfully past me as my sporty little car that is capable of great speeds painfully inches its way toward the third traffic light just in front of Bishop’s where I wait to make that left turn across the bridge that will take me to work.  I could understand this kind of traffic if I was back in Montreal or even New York City, but Lennoxville?  This is a small town of 5000 tops, even when the students are here.  What’s with all this traffic?

On mornings when the traffic is moving, it’s a lovely 5 minute drive with the mountains, the trees, and church steeples all looking very pastoral and very pretty.  Yes, those are the mornings that make you glad to be alive.  Most mornings, however, I am faced with the monumental decision of which street will be less congested, Queen or College.  My coffee is not strong enough to fortify me with the prescience needed to make such a crucial choice.  If I go down Queen, I can make a left turn by the Town Hall, and if I’m lucky, I can make another left on to College from Depot, but I have to be cocky.  I have to have nerves of steel to sneak out in front of the traffic and make my way to the Promised Land in hopes that the crosswalk won’t bog the traffic down too much.  At least my hairdresser appreciates my problem; the traffic has turned my hair gray and she’s making money dying it closer to its once youthful brown.

It could be that the new 410 overpass will alleviate some of the traffic so that the large trucks that are a pesky component of the morning traffic will go another way, but I’m not overly optimistic.  There is still the Children’s Crusade to contend with, and though the kids finish school and graduate, there are more, always more, to take their place. 

If this is the case, once the new highway is up and taking the strain off in-town traffic, we can be sure that more experts will come up with a new scheme, maybe a fourth traffic light, so that at least you could move for a few minutes before the next student waits to cross the street.  Maybe we could see a footbridge go over College Street, something like the bridges in Venice, or maybe they will come up with hover crafts so we can all fly to work like George Jetson.  Yes, that’s the answer…except by that time, I will have retired.  Pity, I always wanted one of those.

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