Re: [carfree_cities] Individual pedestrian activism
- 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 isAnd because motorists are disinclined to interact with the world outside
>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.
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 forYes. I do sometimes exaggerate my gestures at reckless drivers.
>many reasons are frequently misconstrued, amplified and exaggerated.
>I'm thinking aloud here but isn't there a better relationship betweenThere is more possibility for communication, but I'm not sure that results
>pedestrians (and for that matter cyclists) and cars when their speeds
>converge and when windows and even roofs are open or down?
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 homeAh, but there is nothing at all "human" about automobiles, and nothing much
>zones points of friction are reduced (though they can also be magnified) and
>driver and pedestrian can acknowledge their common humanity.
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[Snip]
>incident where they may have endangered me) I can open a polite
>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
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.