Thursday, September 21, 2006

We're All Pedestrians Here, Right?

Dear Pedestrians...

You can't speed, illegally park, or kill people by crashing in to them, so your scope for disorder is pretty minimal, but you do a hell of a job at messing up!

You only have one main task - cross the road if it's safe. This sounds patronising, because it is SUCH a simple concept and it was taught to you at primary school!!!! The green cross code - remember?

You are the SLOWEST road user of all, bar none. You are the MOST VUNERABLE road user of all, bar none. So how on earth do you conclude that "I might make it across" is a sane decision, when the red man shines down on you, and the cars are straining to leave their grid at the traffic light grand prix!

If I can manage to wait at a red light while cycling, then YOU can manage to wait at a red man!

But Seriously

Pedestrians' lack of attention could perhaps begin to be explained, because a lot of a pedestrians' "road-use" requires NO thought whatsoever. I.e. walk out your house and along the pavement.

Compare this to drivers of vehicles, who have to be concentrating 100% because the situations are constantly changing as they drive along. And arguably a cyclist's alertness is further engaged, due to the energising physical exercise of riding the bike.

Isolated from vehicular traffic most of the time, pedestrians don't NEED to think, and can happily daydream as they wish on the pavements. However, a large problem seems to be pedestrians failing to engage their thinking switch, which IS needed, for example to navigate busy junctions.

There are obligations pedestrians have to be aware of, under the Highway Code. But most probably don't notice this until studying for their driving theory test. Too late in my opinion.

Group Psychology

Often an independently thinking, alert pedestrian (Ped A) will assess a risk, and briskly make it across a road, regardless of red man or green man. Fine, no problem with that, well done, gold star.

But a lot of people are lazy, and assume that "if someone else just did it, it must be ok right?" and will copy first bloke (Ped A) and follow him across the road without evaluating the situation themselves (Ped B).

This is flawed, because the decision Ped A made was only relevant to him (he was not planning for a large group to cross slowly, only himself, and quickly.)

Every second in time, the situation is changing, making Ped A's action irrelevant & potentially unsafe, if carried out by Ped B seconds later with even a slightly different traffic scenario.

This can also spark a chain reaction of similarly mind-less copiers, who result in an unsafe, selfish "conga" of pedestrians, meandering across the road without right-of-way, and staring down the headlights of fast moving entitled vehicles.

Personal Accounts

Where do I start. I'm sure everyone can reel off a never-ending list of pedestrian errors, misjudgements and incidents they've witnessed or perhaps partook in?

Even just today, I saw a girl, nay; grown woman, happily glance across a road, take three steps forward, while looking left, directly in to the path of a bus, travelling from her right. The only reason she didn't spend the next 6 weeks in hospital, was thanks to the bus driver's quick reaction & emergency stop.

On the way home today, a "dumble" of pedestrians (plural word for a group of dozy peds) were wandering across a busy junction under the cautionary glare of the red man, and seemed surprised and shocked when I came steaming through legitimately. A friendly toot sparked to life dusty nerve connections, firing up the ped's under-used recollection of the green cross code. Oh how I love airzound!

Another example are peds who take a couple of steps in to the road as a "warm up", stop, THEN look left & right for cars. Trouble is the ped's little run up, is usually traversing a cycle lane, and they didn't even contemplate a 25mph bicycle being there.

Is this really what goes through a pedestrian's mind when they cross a road?
Option 1 - Don’t look & cross anyway.
Option 2 - Look, but don’t see, and cross anyway.
Option 3 - Look, see, and chance it anyway, assuming that staring down at the road hard enough, will supply immunity from any imminent threats.

Rant Over

It is totally achievable to cross a road safely without instruction from red & green LED's, I'm embarrassed to even type it. But for every 1 person sat at their PC scoffing derisively at the insult to their intelligence, there are another two people this instant, looking left (or not at all!) and stepping in to the path of moving traffic.

Wake up pedestrians!

You are road-users too!

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Al said...

I won't be using this horn for pedestrians, it is far too loud & overpowering. It's use shall be reserved specifically for vehicles.

Hehe :)

Urban Commuter said...

Hehe! Well spotted Al.

I guess it all depends on circumstance.
When I wrote that, I had in mind creeping up behind a pedestrian on an isolated alleyway and then unleashing the horn 2 feet from their un-expectant arse. I wouldn't do that then, and I still wouldn't now.

But if it's the latter example with clear road priorities (red man, green traffic light) and peds are flouting it AND doing so inattentively, then hell yeah! - They're gonna get a full dose!

Al said...

Yeah I figured that's what you meant. Same deal here in Dublin - particularly cos us bikes are normally off the line a lot quicker than the cagers.

If there's not some crazy aggressive guy on a Ducati to blast them outta my way I end up weaving slowly through them which is irritating.

One trick I picked up from a blog or forum post somewhere is always go behind ped's. They'll either freeze or move forward, so behind is good for us 99% of the time. Just watch the 1% ;)

Anyway thinking about getting me one o' them Airzounds meself, I didn't realise they were so cheap.

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