It is generally recognised that motor vehicles are one of the Gods of the Materialist Pantheon; they are the seven-league boot freed from the praxis of youngest sons and humble princes. However – unlike the worshippers of older religions and the listeners to fairy tales – many have not heard the lessons of this modern secular mythology.
Although I travel longer distances by vehicle, I make most journey’s on foot. As I am relatively fit and practised, I walk faster than the average and so on most journeys I overtake at least one other pedestrian. So one bane of my questing is the Centre Walker, the pedestrian who walks along the middle of the pavement. Sometimes the pavement is wide enough that I might pass, but usually in our worship of the Car we have sacrificed the pavement to the road leaving a sparse two person’s width. Odious even among such company is the Meanderer, the (fortunately) more rare cousin of the Centre Walker, who will sometimes have a person width to the left, sometimes to the right, but will drift from side-to-side without pattern or warning.
In my earliest quests these might be overcome by the walk of the hero who, fearing no evil, did not creep on silent feet but approached with a firm and regular pace. However the new faith of Constant Media has raised up the twin beasts of headphones and smart-phones to close off the senses from the natural rhythm of footfalls.
If we drove our cars in this way, over the centre line, drifting from lane to lane without a care for others, or driving side by side with our friends across the entire road, we would be unsurprised if we were penalised or received little sympathy were we to suffer injury or loss. Why then do careful drivers adopt this behaviour when they are on foot? With advertisements for insurance and legal services based entirely on the conceit that pedestrians are motor vehicles can people be unaware of the similarities? Obviously those who are restricted, either by disability or unwieldy objects, are entitled to the privilege of the wide load, but even they can – and many do – keep to one side of the pavement to allow others more room to pass.
I am not advocating that there be fixed rules for pedestrians, but I would prefer a world in which more pedestrians adopted a little more of the courtesy of the careful driver.
Do you believe pedestrians should be restricted? Do you feel vehicles should have the leeway given to pedestrian?