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Re: [carfree_cities] Individual pedestrian activism

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  • Doug Salzmann
    In response to Joel s question (about actions individual pedestrians could take against a motorist behaving ... And because motorists are disinclined to
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 30, 2000
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      In response to Joel's question (about "actions individual
      pedestrians could take against a motorist behaving
      dangerously"), Simon wrote:

      >I like the encouragement to think about this problem that if generalised is
      >about the difficulty of people outside a car communicating with people
      >inside one - either because of the differences in speed or because
      >sound will not pass through windows.

      And because motorists are disinclined to interact with the world outside
      the windows. They are (marginally) in that outside world, but not of
      it. Modern automobile designers work hard to enhance this sense of
      separation, and automobile marketers tout it.

      I don't see much commercial television, but I did watch some recently,
      because my interest in the Tour de France overcame my dislike for those
      damned ads. One of the endless stream of car commercials described its
      very desirable product as a "cabin in the woods" for the lucky occupants,
      who need not fear actual exposure to the environment.

      >This encourages gestures - which for
      >many reasons are frequently misconstrued, amplified and exaggerated.

      Yes. I do sometimes exaggerate my gestures at reckless drivers.

      >I'm thinking aloud here but isn't there a better relationship between
      >pedestrians (and for that matter cyclists) and cars when their speeds
      >converge and when windows and even roofs are open or down?

      There is more possibility for communication, but I'm not sure that results
      in a "better relationship."

      I don't think it is possible for peds and cyclists to share the roads
      safely, comfortably and pleasantly with motorists -- unless we enforce
      rules and limits that effectively deprive motorists of any advantage
      associated with automobility. ;-)

      >Where this can happen as at traffic lights and in home
      >zones points of friction are reduced (though they can also be magnified) and
      >driver and pedestrian can acknowledge their common humanity.

      Ah, but there is nothing at all "human" about automobiles, and nothing much
      humane about motoring in town. I must confess that I have no interest in
      making the use of personal autos in towns and cities more
      pleasant. Difficult and expensive would be fine with me (and yes, I live
      in California and I do own an automobile - with a "See Pedestrians" sticker
      in the rear window).

      >I've been able to look a driver in the eye and keep calm (after an
      >incident where they may have endangered me) I can open a polite
      >dialogue... and
      >usually elicit an apology and part amicably with both parties I suspect
      >feeling more human.
      >the social talent involved in making contact is what is really needed.

      Well, I try to stay calm, but I'm an assertive pedestrian. It is common,
      for instance, for drivers to refuse to yield the right of way to peds in
      crosswalks. If they don't yield to me when I step from the curb, I
      continue moving forward, trying for eye contact with the nearest motorist,
      while raising both hands in the universally-understood "Stop" signal. If
      necessary I use a tactic learned from Sally Flocks (of Pedestrians
      Educating Drivers about Safety - "PEDS" - in Atlanta). I blow my Storm
      Safety Whistle (big, bright orange and *very* loud) as much as necessary to
      get their (and everyone's) attention. One way or another, I make them
      stop. Then, I thank them and cross the street. Sometimes, drivers seem a
      little irritated that I've dared to interrupt their travel, but most of
      them are just stunned to realize how little attention they were paying to
      their surroundings.

      If everyone insisted that motorists yield to pedestrians as required by
      law, it would be safer and more convenient to walk in our communities, and
      a little less convenient to drive. I vote for that.

      As for other means of communication, a paintball gun might make the message
      clear (and make it easy to identify the getaway car after the driver shoots
      you with his .357), but let's just build carfree neighborhoods instead.

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