Saturday, December 17, 2016

Road Rant

cold morning for the geese

There are a lot of reasons I don't like automobiles. One of them is that they have a bizarre tendency to turn people into jerks. Rudeness that people would never dream of face to face is somehow natural when they're in a faceless vehicle.

I'm lucky that my walk to work only crosses one vaguely main road. Most of the way is on the Meewasin trail, avoiding cars altogether. The other morning when I reached Spadina it was relatively busy. I waited patiently for a gap in traffic. But it was somewhere in the neighborhood of -35 with the wind chill so I wasn't keen on standing there too long. Eventually there was a decent gap in traffic and I started to cross the road. Just to be clear, not only was I at an intersection, but it was also a marked crosswalk. By no stretch of the imagination did I step out into the middle of traffic. (I'm not that stupid!) The roads were not icy. The nearest approaching car was about half a block away. He would have to slow down slightly to give me time to cross, but wouldn't even need to stop. But as soon as I stepped off the curb he started honking at me. I pointed at the crosswalk sign. He kept honking. I got annoyed so I stopped in the middle of the road forcing him to stop. I pointed again at the crosswalk sign. I didn't expect an apology, but I did expect that he'd shut up.

I continued across the road thinking that was the end of it, but as he drove by he rolled down his window and yelled at me not to cross when there were cars around. Seriously? Obviously he didn't like anything slowing down his driving. And I'm sure he didn't appreciate that I tried to imply that he was in the wrong (by pointing at the crosswalk sign).

You'd think people would have a little empathy or even respect for someone walking, especially at these temperatures. I should know better. In a place where there are more cars than people, more parking lots than parks, someone without a vehicle is obviously utterly down and out. Why would you have the least shred of respect for them. Especially when such a low life gets in your way.

I have to laugh when I compare it to crossing roads in Asia. If you waited for a gap in traffic there you'd never get across the street. Your only option is to appear confident and step out into the maelstrom. Any sign of weakness or hesitation and no one will slow down.  But nor do drivers throw a temper tantrum about pedestrians having the nerve to cross the road. 


  1. Yup. Very true. In Asia, as you say, confidence is everything and so is consistency. Step out, keep an eye on the approaching vehicles and keep moving at a constant speed. They all just adjust and flow around you. No muss, no fuss.

  2. I was remembering your recent blog post about traffic in Kathmandu.