Recently Nashville’s Channel 2 News did a story about pedestrians. More than one-hundred and twenty pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in 2015. I didn’t get interviewed for the story even though I’m an amateur professional expert on local transportation and they filmed it right in front of the building where I work. I think I was too busy working. I can relate to a lot of what the interviewees said. At least once a week while I’m waiting to cross the street a car in the lane closest to me will come to a screeching halt and the driver will give me that condescending little hand wave, oblivious to the fact that there are cars speeding by in the other two lanes. And then the driver will get impatient, give me the not-so-condescending finger, and peel out, leaving me to wait until I have the right of way. Or when a delivery truck is parked right in front of my building, blocking the view of the other two lanes, I’ll just go the long way around–through a parking lot where I have to dodge drivers who don’t bother to look when they pull out. A few blocks away there’s an intersection with a traffic light where a friend of mine was hit by a driver who didn’t think the red light applied to him. My friend survived but the accident caused some memory loss, so some of us put together a care package that included a DVD of Total Recall, but that’s another story.
And I know that a guaranteed way to start a fight on the internet is to post any story about a pedestrian or bicyclist being hit or almost hit by a car with people in the comments section quickly veering off-topic to compare each other to Tamerlane, sniping about who believes the Earth is only forty-two years old and banana-shaped, and resorting to everything from cogito in absentia attacks to tin man fallacies.
With that in mind I’m going to take a firmly ambivalent stand in favor of the drivers because I’ve seen some fellow pedestrians do some really stupid things. I’ve seen people step off the sidewalk and stare down oncoming traffic and run out in the middle of the street mid-block. I know Nashville is not pedestrian-friendly. It’s not like New York City where having a license and car is more of a burden than a convenience. When I didn’t have a license people regarded me with suspicion and assumed I must have had one at one time and got it taken away for doing Dukes of Hazard-type stunts in a stolen minivan. And in spite of the addition of bicycle lanes and even bicycles you can rent most of the city isn’t really bike-friendly. The buses have bike-racks that only hold one bicycle at a time because the idea that more than one cyclist would need to take a bus at any time is almost as ludicrous as the addition of bike lanes because all the bicyclists I see use the sidewalks. I love it when I’m walking along and they come up behind me and scream at me to get out of their way.
Hey, the roads and sidewalks are there for all of us and we all have to use them responsibly. Now let the comments section fight commence.