Pedestrians First!


Consider - why do freeways in the USA have signs at the on ramp that say "NO PEDESTRIANS"? 

Do you suppose it is to call attention to that fact for drivers, pedestrians, or everyone? I bet you said for everyone. But why is there a little sign there and not on all the other roads? I bet you already know the answer to this one too; it is to remind everyone that on that special roadway cars rule, no pedestrians are allowed to go there because a car will surely strike and kill them. 

But why is this sign needed? Surely any fool knows that walking on the freeway is an invitation to disaster, what possible good can this little sign do? 

I am so glad you asked! That little sign on the entrance to the freeway is one of many steps that have indoctrinated a faulty and evil concept into our culture, this concept we teach our young even today: "Watch out for cars!" 

Why should a child be held responsible to watch out for a mindless fool behind the wheel of 2 tons of steel? I argue the law is already quite clear - the child ALWAYS has the right of way (except on the freeway, where those little signs are).  Or shall we argue this point? If a child on a bike falls in front of your car, is it ok to run him down? What if he crosses on a red light? What if the errant one dares to wander outside of the white lines painted on the road for his protection - what harm can the child possibly do to your speeding or stopped hulk of steel?

On the other hand, a motor vehicle racing to the next red light can cross over one of those white lines and destroy a family in a moment, forever. So who should watch out for whom? Again, the law is already clear, a pedestrian has the right of way. So why are thousands, no, TENS OF THOUSANDS, of pedestrians and bike riders being killed or maimed every year in American roads by cars and trucks?  

I suggest it is because we have been teaching a faulty idea, to the wrong people. Instead of teaching pedestrians and bike riders, and pets that will never learn anyway, why not teach the operators of these behemoths to WATCH OUT FOR LIVING THINGS? 

After all, it is already their responsibility, legally and morally, to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS. Or do we have to argue about this again? Ok, please list all the circumstances in which you feel it is ok to run over a person:

Hmm, hopefully you came up with a pretty short list. I hope we all agree; it is better to not run over people with cars. So let’s take some concrete actions to protect people from machines. I propose we set aside the right 10 feet in each direction of every roadway (except those with the little “NO PEDESTRIANS” signs) for pedestrians and bike riders. Back in the 70’s we started that along with making them accessible for handicapped people. 

But somehow this is just never a priority. Instead, more roads are built for more cars that consume more of everything and the spaces in front of our homes have become killing zones, unsafe for children, pets or any other living thing.

Neighbors are now isolated from each other inside their powerful weapons of mass destruction, racing the machinery to maximum consumption spewing clouds of toxic waste into the air and water that is supposed be part of the commons.  Observe traffic and marvel – if people behaved this way in line at the bank or grocery it would surely result in a brawl! Racing each other, darting in and out, speed up, slow down, always seeking an advantage here or there to shave a few seconds off their trip – this is sanity?

In any case, for someone who chooses not to participate in this madness, the law is already clear, PEDESTRIANS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY. It is high time this law is enforced and the infrastructure improved to provide safe passage over public roadways for people that choose to walk or ride a bike. PEDESTRIANS RULE!