Monday, January 5, 2009

Walk This Way!

(Yes, you're supposed to hear Aerosmith in your head as you read the title.)

I braved the cold (hurricane-like) wind today and walked back to work from lunch. Walking to work more is a New Year's resolution of mine. I'm trying to treat it like D.C. - where anything but walking isn't an option.

On my walkabouts there is one thing I've noticed: my pedestrian etiquette has changed. Meaning, I have some.

In D.C., you cross outside the crosswalk, you don't wait for walk lights, and you yell at cars, cabs, messenger bikes and anything else that doesn't ''yield the right of way." Ok...I still (somewhat) do all these things, just to a much lesser and cognizant-of-my-behavior way.

What is really noticeable, however, is the respect DRIVERS give to PEDESTRIANS here. They wave at you to "have the right of way" at a stop sign. They don't try to pressure you to run-or-be-runover at an intersection you are crossing where they want to turn either left or right. And, remarkably, when there is a crosswalk (and no lights to dictate what to do) drivers heed it. They heed it!!

I was reminded of this at the unlit crosswalk in front of the Capitol tonight. One car coming from my right saw me at the crosswalk and slowed well in advance to let me cross. Another car, coming from my left, came charging down the road, but once aware that there was a pedestrian came to a stop.

I gave a thank you wave to that one because they could've easily charged ahead, but instead followed the rules and stopped. On countless, truly countless occasions, I risked life and limb trying to cross my street in D.C. at the appropriate cross. And, on countless, truly countless occasions I dared cars, Metro buses, bikers, cabs, and whatnot to plow me down - playing "Frogger" and daring them to not stop.

You know, I'm getting pretty used to not yelling both ways before crossing the street...

1 comment:

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

You know, I just talked with a friend last night who has been hit by a car 4 times in the 10 years he's lived in Philadelphia. People drive so aggressively. For this reason, I don't like driving in the city at all. If possible, I will walk where I want to go. If I can't walk... I'll stay home. I hope to someday be brave and confident enough to really use public transportation. Right now it makes me very nervous.