Here’s what happened:
Jennifer and I were walking south on Broadway.
We decided to turn around, so we picked a nice, safe crosswalk.
The light was green for the cars, and we had a don’t walk indicator.
Jennifer crossed the street. I had seen a car coming, so I decided to wait. The car was about 1 block away, and not coming very fast.
Jennifer finished crossing the street before the car even neared the crosswalk; I could have made it. She waited for me at pushpin 3.
I looked both ways again, and there were no cars coming in either direction as far as I could see.
I began crossing the street.
A police car pulled out from a parallel parking spot (Pushpin 1) and stopped in the crosswalk in front of me.
I stopped in the crosswalk, in the center median area of the street. (Pushpin 2 on the map)
Police officer: What does the sign say?
Me: Red hand.
Police officer: What does that mean?
Me: Don’t walk.
Police officer: Why were you crossing the street?
Me: There were no cars coming.
Police officer: [Pauses and looks at her own car] There is now.
Me: Which is why I am not crossing the street anymore.
Police officer: Seriously, this is for your own safety. [Drives away]
Two days ago, I sent an email to the Seattle Police Department to thank them for starting a new enforcement program called Don’t Block the Box, which aims to improve traffic flow on the street I use every day to leave downtown (University Street). In the same mail, I also asked them to look out for a few other behaviors which screw up traffic on my street: trucks double-parking in the middle of a traffic lane, and cars turning left from the right-most lane (see it). Earlier this afternoon, I received a personal call back from the police department thanking me for my feedback.
I have mixed feelings about all of this now.