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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When pedestrian common sense goes out the window

Scariest thing happened today. It was just about 30 minutes ago where I stopped at an intersection, looked both ways, and here comes some jogger darting across the street while my car is in motion, and luckily I hit my brakes just in time to not hit the guy.

And I'm thinking to myself... where is your common sense? He was wearing iPod earphones, jogging down the street, AND wearing a dark red sweatshirt!

Come on folks, you need to use some common sense when running, jogging, or even walking at night in the city.
  1. Don't run or jog while listening to your iPod when crossing the street. Remember the Muni advertisement campaign of listening for vehicle sounds before you cross the street?
  2. Wear some damn bright colors at night! That guy was wearing a very dark red shirt, and that doesn't reflect well to light. Wear at least a white colored shirt or jacket, or even better, spend a few bucks for a bright orange safety vest. $3 for a vest, or a $5,000 hospital bill? Every Halloween, the news TV folks remind kids to carry a flashlight and wear bright colors, for adults, take the message SERIOUSLY 365 days a year.
  3. WALK across the street, don't run. That's the same as starting to cross the street when the countdown clock is ticking away, you risk getting hit when you realize you have two seconds left and you dart across the rest of the intersection. If a pedestrian darts a crosswalk, and times it perfectly with a driver who very recently scanned the crosswalk and thought it was clear, BANG! This is similar bicyclists who think it's OK to run red lights and stop signs and the car driver thinks going through the intersection is OK, and then WHAM.
  4. Make eye contact with the driver, if you don't make eye contact, don't risk it.
  5. Lastly, just don't exercise outdoors at night. It's like that Simpson's Halloween episode when Ned Flanders was doing his night fog walk and Marge hit him with the car. I hear having sex is exercise, why not stick to that? And if you are single, get a fleshlight.
So basically, for you pedestrians, make yourself obvious. Drivers at night makes themselves obvious by turning on their headlights (in which we may get ticketed for a burned out bulb), so why don't you pedestrians do the same by making it easier for you to spot?

As for me, my lesson is to look more carefully for stupid pedestrians.


Anonymous said...

Scary isn't it! Some people can't even walk and chew gum at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Could you please expand on the "walk, don't run" line of thought? I'm principally a pedestrian, and it sounds like you're principally a driver. As a pedestrian, I take offense at the idea that I shouldn't jog or run across an intersection (I'm thinking of those controlled by traffic lights). I clearly have the legal right to run or walk at more or less any speed while I have a walk signal, and a faster gait may enable me to make signals that I would otherwise miss; the question is whether it's wise for the pedestrian and whether it's a good or bad result for everyone concerned. My first take is that as long as the pedestrian walks or runs at a constant and predictable speed that should be enough. Your suggestion that I limit my gait gets my back up. I'd rather be wrong and live than right and dead, though. There are a lot of cars that basically threaten pedestrians to make them jump out of the way. I cede ground of course, and have learned to walk defensively.

Some of the worst incidents I've seen or been part of have been with motorcycles. I witnessed a couple of people with leashed dogs crossing at a marked crosswalk with stop signs (a four-way stop) where they had every conceivable right of way. Nevertheless, the motorcyclist who considered himself inconvenienced shouted at them "What's your problem?!"

The second incident returns to your point, a case where I was jogging, not running, across a wide light controlled street (Park Presidio) so that I would make the light. A motorcyclist approached from the opposite direction and turned to cross my path. He didn't allow for my speed and didn't slow at all, headed directly at me. We both tried to move out of the way, but unfortunately we both moved in the same direction a couple of times. I jumped forward and wasn't hit. He continued on his way, accelerating, shouting something in anger or scorn. One issue here that doesn't apply to cars is that a turning motorcycle seemingly can't stop or slow quickly without losing balance. To me that suggests an arrogance (and risk seeking, on my dime?) of motorcyclists who don't prepare to stop, and who don't have a plan B, in effect. I was moving at a predictable pace, though he presumably only made allowance for walking pace. I went wrong, possibly, in assuming the motorcyclist wouldn't aim into me and try to bull his way through. Now I walk more defensively, though with resentment of the many drivers who want to contest the pavement.