Traffic laws seemingly bind pedestrians

By Jeff Kochan

Editors, the Gauntlet,

I have been a bicycle commuter and advocate for 15 years. However, on Sept. 14 I was travelling through campus on foot. As I was walking along the sidewalk I looked up and saw a cyclist coming straight toward me. Since he was looking straight at me and we were the only two people on the sidewalk, I expected–quite reasonably, I think–that he would cycle around me. It became clear very quickly, however, that he was intentionally bearing down on me, trying to intimidate me and force me off his line of travel.

Not taking much pleasure in broken bones and contusions, I jumped out of the way, yelling, "What are you doing?" as he passed.

"Walk like you drive," he yelled back and disappeared around a bend.
After a moment of confusion, I realized this cyclist had a problem with me walking on the left side of the sidewalk.

I’m shocked that car-centricism has crept so deeply into a human mind. And how twisted must this guy’s mind be for him to intentionally risk injuring me because I, while walking, don’t pretend that my legs are a motor vehicle and the sidewalk a street? There is already a shocking disregard among some motorists in this city for pedestrians trying to cross streets at controlled intersections and crosswalks. But it is a seriously sick mind that would physically intimidate pedestrians into accepting car-driving techniques and highway traffic laws as the basic paradigm governing movement through pedestrian space.

It is already ridiculous and often quite dangerous that cyclists should be legally bound to conform to traffic laws that were written exclusively for motor vehicles, and which therefore show an appalling ignorance of the obvious differences between a bicycle and a car. But to expect pedestrians to walk on a sidewalk as if obligated under the Highway Traffic Act is nothing short of absolute lunacy.

I hope this guy manages to crawl out of his stupidity before he injures someone.


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