Tag Archives: pedestrians

Pedestrians and Cars: A Two-Way Street

I cannot imagine what our ancestors of long ago would have thought of our casual disregard for motor vehicles. Tons of metal hurtle towards us and we will blithely walk in front of them with presumptions of our safety. And we, as drivers, hold these leviathans at our fingertips, feeling invincible as we do so.

But the truth is that hundreds of people are injured and killed everyday, the world over, because of cars, trucks, buses. Here in Vancouver, and most of Canada, pedestrians have the right of way. That’s most to protect the flesh and bone as they’re more vulnerable that people in cars. However, should a person run into traffic or jaywalk I believe they still have the right of way, even if they are breaking the law. But it’s great way to get yourself made into road pizza.

In Vancouver, the areas that have a lot of shops tend to be the ones that will bring out the jaywalking. I will never ever jaywalk if a car is coming because I don’t believe in inconveniencing people who truly have the right of way, just because I want to skip an extra minute by walking to the corner. I have watched people and been in my car having people step out into the middle of traffic or saunter across, or end up stopping the flow because in laziness they can’t wait.

This gets back to my pet peeve of the me-me-me world where everyone only thinks of themselves. The selfish pedestrians inconvenience the drivers and other folks because they pretend they own the world. Conversely, the selfishness of drivers can be even more deadly than the accidents that law-disregarding pedestrians cause.

Too many people pay no attention but to the road in front of them. A good driver and a law-abiding one is supposed to be reading signs and watching what goes on around. Without reading you won’t know if you’re in a construction zone, if the speed limit changes, or if there is a merge lane. And without observing what’s going on around you (in a non-rubbernecking way) you won’t know that traffic flow will change, that a person is crossing a street or someone has signalled and is backing up to parallel park.

It is every driver’s responsibility to pay attention and observe. That doesn’t mean pulling out into oncoming traffic just because your signal is on (if it’s on) but do so when it’s safe. The same goes for changing lanes. And should you see someone standing at a crosswalk, you are supposed to stop and let them cross, not zoom through because they can cross after. I have almost been smeared because I was more than halfway through the crosswalk when someone decided to just keep going. People get clipped when cars turn corners.

Of course car manufacturers can be blamed for some of this. My Saturn has a huge blind spot and when I’m turning a corner I have to look behind and in front of this blind spot. However, I almost hit someone when turning one night, not because I wasn’t looking but because it was dark and raining and this guy decided to run across the street. I only saw legs flashing by as I hit the brake. It behooves every person to keep a healthy ounce of self-preservation and realize that it is sometimes hard for drivers to see in rain, fog, snow and dark.

And yesterday I almost hit a bicyclist. I signalled, stopped and looked both ways, then pulled out to turn from an alley. But this guy sailed in front of me at a fast speed and there had been a parked van to my left. Every person on the street, whether driver, bicyclist, pedestrian (and god forbid, skateboarders) needs to consider what their actions will cause, and think about if a driver/pedestrian can see them. Crossing the street that has no lighting and wearing all black at night makes you hard to see. Consider that and make sure the driver has seen you before you step in front of them.

Pedestrians, use the corners and crosswalks and don’t dash in front of cars. Drivers, consider the road, the signs and the people along the walks. Follow the rules and laws of the road and consider that you’re not the only one on it. If more people just did this; pay more attention, be aware and conduct themselves safely, we could probably cut down on accidents by 30%.

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Skateboarders are Buttheads

This should get me a bit of hate mail but it’s true. Okay, not ALL skateboarders are buttheads but the vast majority that I run into on the streets are. The ones that go to the skateboard parks and other safe areas to do their acrobatic feats of derring-do are no problem at all.

The ones that careen through traffic trying to race Death out of Darwin’s gene pool: now those are the giant buttheads. They care for little, not themselves, nor anyone else and have the arrogance that equates to a short life.

We have many forms of locomotion; cars, buses, bicycles, feet, motorcycles, roller blades and skateboards. Skateboards are the least suited to sidewalk and road. Bicyclists and motorcyclists ride small wheeled vehicles with their flesh exposed to the elements and the hard metal of other machines. They wear reflective and protective clothing, and helmets. Of course there would probably be a few death-wish hopefuls who would try to ride without helmets if it weren’t law, like it’s cool to have your brains splat on pavement or something. Cool to be stupid: that’s attractive.

Bicyclists, if they want to remain alive, pedal along beside cars as they can’t go as fast. Drivers and bicyclists should always respect each other’s space and cut out any ego issues. Unfortunately there are attitudes on both sides, but we can always dream of better tolerance. But back to skateboarders; they don’t wear protective or reflective clothing, they don’t wear helmets. Two fails right there.

Pedestrians have the right of way of sidewalks. They walk on them, not on the road where they would soon be road pizza. Of course there are butthead pedestrians who jaywalk in front of cars as if they own the road. But most stick to the sidewalks where they belong. Skateboarders get another fail for having a wheeled object on the sidewalk. Bikes aren’t allowed there; neither are skateboards.

Skateboarders don’t fit the rules of the road because they can’t go fast enough, not even as fast as a bike unless it’s downhill. They don’t wear the proper gear and on top of that they’re kicking a leg out and veering, long undulations in and out of traffic. Skateboarders don’t fit the rules of the sidewalk, because they’re on wheels. They’re hazardous to the pedestrians and often swerve all over the place.

On top of all this, they, who are least protected on the road, take the biggest risks, rolling down the middle of the street, nonchalantly getting out of the way–eventually, when a driver has had to break or slow down for them. It always amazes me that the less protection a person has from vehicles, it’s almost as if the arrogance goes up exponentially.

There is nothing more irritating or dangerous then guys flying down the road, or chugging along weaving in and out of cars and people, flipping up on curbs, doing near nose-dives onto pavement. Skateboards should be like ATVs, banned completely from roads and sidewalks and only given to certain terrain. The skateboard parks and abandoned underpasses are the ideal terrain for the skateboarder but not as a way through the streets.

A view of an extreme skateboarder’s world is revealed in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash where pizza drivers wield swords and couriers skateboard along freeways tossing their magnetized discs onto speeding vehicles to hitch a ride. (A review of this book is in a previous blog entry.) So I will stick with my thoughts that skateboarders on the streets today are buttheads, pursuing a delicate dance with death while endangering others.

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Deplorable Drivers of the Lower Mainland

I have decided to start doing this weekly because the driving habits of many people are just terrible. Let’s mention inconsiderate and selfish too. I remember a few years back when driving in Saskatchewan, I couldn’t believe how polite drivers were. If you were coming up on a car on a single lane highway, it would just automatically pull over to let you by.

In BC and Alberta, that car would drive like no one was on the road, or even slow down to irritate you. If it was a two lane road, that car would not move from the left-hand “fast” lane and if you then tried to pass in the right-hand lane, it would speed up.

Road rage. One man has just been charge in the murder of a young man last year, when the guy first forced the people off the road and then came back to run them over. In one sense I can understand road rage because people are just not paying attention or think that the world does in fact revolve around them. Listen up, people. You’re unique because no one else quite has your DNA but everyone is unique and everyone has a right to a decent life.

You don’t own the world or even your patch of road. You may not even own your car but if you do, you’re responsible for driving in a polite and safe manner. Remember, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That means, don’t wait for someone to be nice to you first, just carry out your life and do things as you would like to find them. Let someone in in traffic, if you would like to be let in at some time. Don’t sideswipe someone, unless you want it done to you. Don’t shoot someone, unless you want to be shot. It seems a pretty simple principle to live by but obviously it’s not.

Today, I’m listing two losers of the week. The first, Mr. Sporty Red Truck with a cherry red finish (BC licence # BA 9595) decided that he owned the road on Monday, January 12th on Commercial Dr. at Gravely. I was waiting at the corner to cross, but in Vancouver, you can’t just wait, even though by law, pedestrians have the right of way. I step off the curb and start to walk out slow. It was dark, yes, about 10:30 pm, but I moved out slowly (and I always watch because I have a good reason for not trusting drivers). I was into the middle of the oncoming lane when Mr. Sporty Red Truck decided that he wouldn’t stop for me and swerved around me, missing me by two inches. I yelled, “Hey, asshole” at him and was so mad that I’m writing this. Plain and simple, pedestrians have the right of way at ever corner, whether there is a crosswalk or not.

If you don’t know this, you should turn in your licence. There are rules of the road, which are law, and there are rules of the road, which come into common courtesies. The latter would be letting someone in who is signalling and not blocking them out.

The second loser of the week was  Thursday, January 15th, at 10:50 am, one Mrs. Silver Van (BC licence# 809 LBX) at the merge lane of the #1 Highway joining onto the Brunette Highway going west/south. It’s a merge lane. It says merge. The lane disappears.  Merge means just that. Like the large semi before me, I came up the ramp and signalled to get into the lane. The semi merged. I let the car in the left lane go by and, continually signalling, began to merge into the lane as is the way. One car from the left, one car from the right, one car from the left, etc. BTW, signalling is not an option; it’s the law.

Mrs. Silver Van not only closed the gap on me but start pushing me back into that disappearing lane, laying on her horn. The thing was that lane also ramps off to a right-turn lane, but there was no way she was going to let me in, into the thick of traffic. I really would have loved to see her shove over the semi. So Mrs. Silver Van, giant asshole that you have exhibited yourself to be, may you get a flat tire in the pouring cold rain, and find your jack doesn’t work and that no one will stop to help you because you could exhibit a common courtesy.

I have stronger words for these two people running through my head but I’m trying to censor myself. I really wished I had rotten tomatoes for that van, and the truck, though for the truck a sharp piece of metal would have worked, and I wouldn’t even have reached out. I always try to stop for people at crosswalks and corners. Once in a while I don’t seem them until it’s too late, but if they’re on the road, I do always stop.

So, drivers, you don’t own the road, you won’t die if you stop for someone, or let someone in. And if next time you’re trying to merge or change lanes and no one will let you in, well that’s why. People aren’t always in a race against you. Sometimes they just want to turn a corner or get to their destination. Play nice in the sandbox or your mother will ground you.

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