Editorial: Be a better pedestrian

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry

The few times I’m able to get a ride home from work, I get the distinct pleasure of being a front seat passenger through the various stops while driving off campus. Let me say this — the vast majority of pedestrians do not even look before they walk. I can understand that there are some drivers who do not stop for pedestrians at all (for example, those coming out of the Zone 1 parking lot) and that angers me, too, as a pedestrian. But, there are way more pedestrians who do not stop for cars (that have already stopped for them) than there are drivers who are trying to speed up to avoid having to stop for pedestrians.

Here’s the thing, whether you are driving to or from campus, taking the bus, walking or biking — we are all trying to do the same thing — get here and get home. Simple. So, if you’re a pedestrian who never bothers to let a car or bus go who has already been stopped waiting for the 13 pedestrians in front of you, you’re also making lots of people wait who are just trying to get home.

Like I said, I walk a lot, especially when I have classes that end at those peak times where the 316 is so packed that it would take me longer to get off at my stop and cross the street than it would for me to walk down the hill. Does it take longer for you to walk to your car than it does for that bus to get to Thorold? Probably. Does it take longer for you to walk home than it does for that driver to get to their home in Merritton? Likely so, but the thing is, does it matter if it takes you an extra few minutes to walk home?

Let’s get away from the conversation about being a nice person and stopping for the car that has already stopped. Now let’s chat about common sense. What happened to looking both ways before you cross the street? Was that not ingrained into every human being during childhood? Those of you pedestrians who keep your heads down and just walk across a pathway without batting an eye — it is dangerous. Countless times I have been on a fully-packed bus, hanging on for dear life at the very front because the driver starts to go and then BAM, a pedestrian has decided to make it their life’s mission to get the bus driver to notice them just in time to come to a halt. So then us bus passengers’ knees buckle or maybe someone falls, all so you, the one person on the sidewalk, could slowly strut the couple of yards before the bus.

Don’t get me wrong, if that car is still moving at a decent speed and they’re approaching a stop sign and I know I can make it across or almost all the way across before they stop, I’m walking, because it makes logical sense for both parties. From personal experience, whenever I walk, I always stop for the car or bus if they have already come to a stop or are close to stopping. I’d also say that 90 per cent of the time, the driver waves for me to go ahead. I honestly believe it’s because the driver is so shocked that someone is waving for them to go, that they feel like returning that kindness. Then there are times where I stop and feel like a great person and someone else just walks into the crosswalk and spoils my whole gesture. Thanks, guys.

So, the next time you’re the pedestrian at the crosswalk, maybe stop, give a wave to the driver, and see what happens. You’ll likely still get the go ahead to walk (as, you know, right-of-way to the pedestrians), but it’s like driving in a roundabout — is there always a right of way? Yes. Are there people out there who don’t follow it? Unfortunately, yes. You have to be aware. But, in being aware, maybe add a little bit of kindness to your walk, stop for that bus or car, and don’t mistake right-of-way for ‘go right away’.

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