Friday, May 12, 2006

I am a pedestrian!

Hello, my name is Michael. I am a pedestrian. It's been three years since I last drove a car.

Something happened to me on a trip to the UK last year. I became a pedestrian. Oh yes, I used to walk frequently, rode my bicycle even more often, rarely drove or rode in a car. After using public transportation and feet to get around England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for a few weeks, I gave up on the idea of wheeled transportation almost entirely.

Feet are much more efficient. It takes no preparations to go out on foot, merely lace up one's shoes and step out the door. The same food that keeps my body in good health also provides fuel for my daily commute, my trips to the market and the video boutique and the occasional foray to the beach (often combined with the other aforementioned pedestrian opportunities).

Walking 4 to 6 miles daily through my neighborhood has given me a new perspective on the human condition. I've discovered that 90% of the people I meet during the day are uncaring louts: they drive too fast, they don't stop at cross walks, they ride their bicycles on the sidewalk and don't stop at stop signs of lights. Ten percent are courteous, friendly and helpful; the rest are yobs, ninnies and feebs.

I rarely meet another human on my daily walks, maybe one or two a week, more when I walk through the small craft harbor where people walk, from their parked cars, for recreation. On my mile walk along 7th Avenue to work I almost never see another walker.

As I walk, I pick up trash, roll wheely-bins back out of the bike lane, greet the few bicyclists riding in the bike lane, smile politely when inattentive motorists pull out of their driveways in front of me without looking for pedestrians. I shout at bicyclists who don't stop at stop signs and motorists who don't stop for me in the cross walks. It's good healthy exercise, clears the lungs, airs out the brains. Just incidentally, it's good exercise for the rest of my body.

My wife chose wisely when she decided to live here, and I chose wisely when I decided to join her. I think I'll stay, on my feets!

2 comments:

  1. Saw a statistic the other day that there are approximately 500,000 people in the United States that regularly commute to work via bike.

    I bet there are less than 50,000 walkers.

    I've also noticed people gawk at walkers. Many seem shocked to see someone actually walking. That's what strikes me as really odd, that people are shocked to see humans doing what they were built to do.

    Oh, and there are probably less than 500,000 people that regularly use their brains for something other than shopping or watching tee-vee, which really takes no intelligence at all.

    Love the photo, btw.

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  2. I'm reminded, more and more, of "Fahrenheit 451," in which the main chracter is stopped by the police for walking in his neighborhood in the evening, a subversive activity.

    Bradbury was a prophetic writer: the little shells in peoples' ears, "whispering, whispering." The wall TeeVees, the all consuming soap operas, the denial and suppression of intellectualism, the control of information, and the response of the people... some of the people... say, 10%?

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