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You can class this more properly as a rant than as a column.
Or maybe as an instructional guide to perambulation.
For just over three years, I’ve been walking back and forth to work; I’ve been doing it long enough that, when I’m on vacation, I miss the morning and afternoon walks quite keenly.
I thought when I started that I’d lose weight, get fit. But mainly, walking to and from work has meant that I walk to and from work. That’s all.
For those who don’t walk much, or for those planning to take up a walking regimen of some sort, here’s a little wisdom from the walk-o-sphere.
First and foremost, you’re the little fish — always. It doesn’t matter that you often have the right of way. Step in front of the big fish, and you get eaten.
In no particular order, here are some thoughts about the hazards involved.
This is a generalization, but if there’s a puddle in front of you on the side of the street and an Audi is coming towards you, you’re likely to get wet. I like to think that’s not because Audi drivers are miserable people, but that cocooned in all of that sleek quiet German engineering, they are lulled into a hazy sense of comfortable non-awareness. (The German word for it is probably something like “autosensensuspensionhaben.” Or something equally long.)
Pickup trucks with high suspensions also enjoy covering you from head to toe. I once had a pickup from a private snowclearing company change lanes just to douse me with slush, and then change back again into the lane he was using in the first place. Ah, the hilarity! (I’m not naming names, plow man, but you know who you are. I will say that I mention your company’s name less-than-fondly to anyone looking for snowplowing services.)
No rules at all apply around Tim Hortons or any other drive-thru.
On that front, here’s something else to think about: bus drivers, squiring around some of the biggest and most unwieldly vehicles and on tight schedules, too, on the whole do a fine job of avoiding splashing pedestrians. They slow, they squeeze away from puddles to the very edge of their lanes, they are — gasp — aware of their surroundings.
Awareness. What a concept.
Drivers of cars that are turning left onto streets — from other streets or from businesses — are likely to look to their right for pedestrians before hitting the gas about 20 per cent of the time. If you want to try your luck at “insurance settlement bingo,” just keep walking.
No rules at all apply around Tim Hortons or any other drive-thru. It wouldn’t matter if, as a pedestrian, you were wearing clothes covered with red flashing lights and you were carrying a siren. When you’ve got the coffee goggles on, apparently you don’t see anything else.
When it is raining, and especially when it is raining and windy, there is no raingear that will keep you dry. The best result you can expect is “less wet.”
At all times, remember Snowflake’s Corollary: “Drivers care about walkers in direct inverse proportion to the amount of snow falling; the worse the roads are, the less chance you have that a driver will treat you with even basic civility.”
Always walk facing traffic — not just because safety experts recommend that you do, but so you can at least make eye contact with the driver who seems intent on trying to kill you.
“Walk” signs can be a cruel joke. Crosswalks are a false sense of security. The one driver who stops and tries to beckon you across four lanes of traffic is not being helpful; he wants you dead, with the benefit of a total denial of responsibility.
But other than that, I enjoy it immensely.
Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com — Twitter: @wangersky
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