Thursday, June 9, 2011

Curb This Habit

To go with our high ranking in dozens of other categories, dubious (homicide rate) and pleasurable (best doggone drinking water in the nation!) it would appear that the Baltimore area can also lay claim to the title of the world capital of People Walking Down the Middle of the Street When There is a Perfectly Good Sidewalk Right There for Crying Out Loud.

It's not just kids shambling their way to the bus in the morning that I speak of. The other morning I was on the way to work and there, ankling right down the middle of the appropriately named Walker Avenue was a man, a woman, and, I guess, a baby. The woman was pushing a baby carriage, is all I know.  And they strolled along the macadam as if they were on the beach at St Tropez, just out for a stroll, la de da.  At length, they became aware that horseless carriages were trying to drive on the road and they headed for the curb in a desultory manner.

Ye Editor as a youth. Note lack of pavement.
Now, first of all, my Opie-esque childhood was spent out in the rural district where we had no sidewalks, forcing me to use my pogo stick on a somewhat rocky lawn, with amusing results. I became aware at an early age that if I wished to attain a later age, it would be salubrious to get out of the way of the oncoming cars, trucks, tractors and so forth.  We walked on the edge of the road, and still spent some time diving into hedgerows when a farmer drove along with his thresher or whatever the heck they called those things.  We never took the notion that the street was ours to walk or play ball in. 

No, I don't travel far, but I've been to New Jersey on a fast train, and I see how they operate up there.  I've been to Delaware, too, and the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, and in none of those places did I see any citizens strutting down the middle of a street like Parisians on the Champs Elysées, eating crêpes with girls named Suzette. 

I don't know how this local custom began, but I know that it's not high on the list of local problems.  All the bigshots with whom I have spoken (newsstand kiosk operators and parking lot attendants) regard this as a rather pedestrian issue.  And maybe that's the problem.


marissa said...

The other day from the window of my office, i saw a woman with a cast on her leg walking diagonally across Calvert street, traffic be damned. Cars had to slow down and swerve around her! I have an inkling as to how she got that broken leg... The craziest thing is when people walk into the middle of the street almost directly in front of your oncoming car, and you practically have to swerve into traffic to avoid them! Just another reason why I don't like driving downtown.

Carol said...

Psst, if you walked down the middle of the Champs Elysees you would die. That is one crazy-ass busy street!