Every day I walk through crowds of rushing pedestrians in North Sydney.
It used to be easy walking through a crowd. People were aware of each other and had few distractions. All of this has changed.
In order to drive a car on the street you need a driver’s licence. Based on my experience I think it is time to introduce a pedestrian licence. Walking in busy Sydney means taking a walk on the wild side.
To avoid being knocked over by the 21st century pedestrian, I want to introduce you to four bad behaviours of pedestrians and how to deal with these people. Many of these behaviours are a result of technology – smart phones and music players but let’s start with the simplest rule of all.
What side of the road to we drive on in Australia – right or left? We drive on the left. So how simple is it to walk on the left hand side of the footpath? Pedestrians with a driver’s license should know this rule. And parents should teach their children to walk on the left.
Have you ever tried walking down George or Pitt Street? As you walk on the left side you will inevitably encounter one or more people walking against the flow obliviously staring into shop windows, forcing pedestrians on to the wrong side of the footpath – this in turn causes a chain reaction of swerving pedestrians changing course until the footpath resembles a cattle stampede.
So what happens when I exit North Sydney railway station? Many pedestrians ignore the
rules of the road, and follow the rules of flowing water – finding the path of least resistance. City Rail needs to install Keep Left signs and to paint arrows on the ground like you see in car parks. City Rail Transit officers could be given additional duties in directing people to walk on the left.
The next group of pedestrian is the person who is not watching where they are going. This usually occurs because the pedestrian is busy with a “smart phone” which is a device which makes some owners quite the opposite. The most common behavior is typing text messages.
When you see someone approaching but not watching it is best to just get out of their way. If that is not possible, wave your hand in their line of sight and call out. The concentration of some pedestrians is quite intense especially if playing a game like Angry Birds. Little do they realise I am playing Angry Pedestrian.
The next type of pedestrian can be seen wearing a large pair of headphones. No, they are not an escaped disc jockey but someone who is passionate about their music. They live, walk and work to a 24 hour a day soundtrack as if living in a noisy nightclub. The headphone wearing pedestrians fall into the two groups – the first are the people watching where they are going – similar to drivers who have the music turned up full blast.
The second group are more dangerous – as well as not hearing they are not watching usually because of the phone – maybe watching a music video or typing a text message. If you see one of these people – get out of the way fast.
Puffing Billy and Puffing Betty
The final type of pedestrian attacks your nose and lungs and usually found outdoors. It’s Puffing Billy and Puffing Betty – people who walk with a lit cigarette in the left hand which is waved around and only occasionally brought to the mouth for inhalation. Once I said to a Puffing Billy “Are you going to smoke that thing or just wave it around?”. The only strategy I have to deal with these types of pedestrians is to sprint past or take a detour. So much for enjoying the invigorating morning air.
There you have it – a survey of five types of pedestrians to watch out for. Now why don’t you venture into rush hour and take a walk on the wild side?