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Friday, August 15, 2014

From a Pedestrian's Perspective

Hello again, internet earthlings. It sure has been a while since I've put anything permanent down here for your  loyal eyes to see. That's OK, though, because just as great friends can still get along famously after a long absence, I know that you won't hold my business this summer against me and my un-updated blog.

 I was prompted to write this post after two major current events. The first is the awful happenings in Ferguson, MO. The second is the very tragic death of a race car driver. They seem unrelated, save for that both tragedies occurred around the same time. I am here to tell you that they both started with the same decision I make plenty of times each day. The decision to be safe and survive.

 I am a pedestrian. I have been for around eight years now since a car wreck left me without transportation. There was a very bad taste in my mouth after that collision with a girl on a cellphone who just didn't pay attention to the red-light that she sped through to cause my journey of walking everywhere. Although I did get a modest amount of money from my vehicle being totaled, I felt that I did not wish to re-enter that risky life lottery of speeding metal and fiberglass. So, I had decided to boycott vehicles and figure out how to get everywhere on foot. This isn't to say that I didn't accept rides from time to time, but I did do a lot more travelling by walking than I ever had before in my life.

 So I started getting my 'sidewalk-legs', as I call them, back underneath myself. After driving for most of my life I had forgotten plenty of things about the most simple mode of travel. Things that I should have remembered that were integral to surviving when going from point A to point B without assistance of machinery.

The first point I came across was one that I misunderstood. It was taught to me in my first Driver's Education class and is a myth. A life-threatening fallacy:

  • Pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way

 The walking only have the right of way if they are in a crosswalk, and only if the walk sign is lit (if the crossing has a light). Plenty of people have been run over while jaywalking, which is a term for crossing where there are no crosswalks or against a light. Those people, or their surviving families do not get to sue for damages due to their own neglect of laws designed for their safety. Streets were built for vehicles, and they are the ones that get the most right of way.

 In the case of the two teens that started this whole thing in Missouri, they were spotted by an officer of the law walking in the street. Not crossing the street, but walking parallel to the curb. This is not only very unsafe, but against the law. A law designed to protect people, both in cars and on foot.

 I'm not sure why they decided to ignore the officer's command to move over to the sidewalk, but they continued to stay in the street after being told to take the safer route on the sidewalk. I can speculate on why disobedience was at the heart of their decision. This is the internet, so speculation on motive is my prerogative, and one of the reasons I wrote this post in the first place.

 A sense of entitlement and flaunting defiance of the law in opposition to personal safety is my opinion of the main reasons why they eschewed the sidewalk for the street. The second is social acceptance. If those boys were to follow what the officer was saying, they would be looked at in a different light by all those around them. That shame and the possibility of being shunned by their peers was greater than the chance of getting clipped by someone's SUV and ending up in a coffin that day. They had probably walked in the street for thousands of times before that day, and they weren't changing that for 'the man'. 

 If only they would have complied with the safety command, Mike Brown would still be alive today. But instead, the defiance and incomprehension of safety shown had drawn an anger from the officer who gave the order and started the events that snowballed into a the latest riots in the midwest. 

 I am not giving the officer who shot the young man dead any excuse for doing so. But I'm also not giving those two males an excuse for walking in the street in the first place. One of the first lessons of being a pedestrian was taught to me by my father when I was only five years old. As we stood on the corner of the yard he said, "Son, always look all ways before and during crossing the street". This is a safer deviation from the more common 'Look both ways before crossing the street". Safety was a primary concern for my father. He wanted me to survive long enough to make him proud. He did a pretty good job at getting me to be safe on the street, so I'm still here to try to make him proud.

 Those two defiant males may have not had such a caring father. I understand that. Lack of great parenting seems to be the main reason that there is a huge lack of respect for safety on the road. Lots of people have lacked the guidance I was tenderly given as a youngster, and I truly wish everyone was as fortunate as me. But, I've known orphans who figured stuff out on their own. They had a sense survival and common courtesy, even if they weren't instilled into them by a caring parent. I think since they lived in an area that did not see respect for others as a weakness, they had no problem following safety and the law.

 Now for the race-car driver situation. It was a total tragedy for Kevin Ward Junior, his family, and anyone who follows racing. The amount of regulations and rules designed to keep the drivers safe are astounding. Way more than my dad's one line of survival to me, these drivers have a veritable laundry list of things to do and follow to keep their lives in tact to race again another day. One of these is staying in the vehicle after a wreck. After the yellow flag is flown, there's a bit of time to wait before the driver is to be extracted. That is to say that the driver should wait for assistance before exiting the vehicle. It is very sad that the sport has been sensationalized to the point where it looks enticing to flaunt safety to exact revenge for a personal grudge against a fellow racer. 

 If only he would have followed the racing rules, he would most likely still be alive to race again. Tragedy was not averted, so we all have to deal with the outcome of this young man losing his life by being in traffic when he shouldn't have been. Such a sad way to go, for sure.

 So, if you ever find yourself without wheels, please follow the advice of my father as well as the rule of the law. It is designed to keep everyone out of danger.

 Thank you so much for taking the time to take in my viewpoint on these awful situations. Have a great day and remember to look all ways before and during a street crossing at the walk with the light.