Run Don’t Walk

There are many things that frustrate me about driving in Seattle, however a large number of the pedestrians and cyclists are quite possibly the most foul of these irritants.

Natalia Goncharova. "Cyclist", 1913.

Natalia Goncharova. “Cyclist”, 1913.

Before I rip into these bastards, let me just say that I do admire people who walk or bike for exercise or environmental reasons. If I lived a reasonable distance from my place of employment, no doubt I would be one of them. Nonetheless, I would like to think that using my feet rather than a combustion engine wouldn’t give me delusions of superiority or an attitude of “Oh, they’ll stop for me”. ¬†People always remind me that “Pedestrians have the right of way!” and I agree that they should; they are people and not lumbering machines…but a “right of way” does not equate to a cloak of invincibility or exemption from the law.

I cannot tell you how many times I have stopped at an intersection with a green light because people expect the cars to come screeching to a halt due to their divine presence on the concrete. It’s like they don’t even think they need to wait for the WALK sign to appear. Just today, a light went from red to green and I sat there while an able-bodied gentleman basically strolled slowly across the street as if someone had paved his path with rose petals and his naked feet were enjoying their silky, generous touch. When I cross an intersection (ahem, when I have a WALK signal), I try to do so with ample speed as I know I am basically crossing “The Pathway of Death” and at any moment an out of control vehicle could come barreling down on my position. The only exceptions I make here are for the elderly, small children and the handicapped. ¬†Anyone else strolling through my green light clearly has a death wish.

As for a select number of cyclists, it’s a similar story. I was always under the impression that if you are on a bike, it’s the same as being on a motorcycle: you signal when turning, you stop at red lights, you allow faster-moving traffic to pass you (when possible). Well, apparently I was living in a dreamworld this whole time. The other day I was WALKING to a restaurant in my neighborhood and I stopped at an empty intersection (save for 1 bicyclist coming down the street). Since he was nearly a block away, I assumed he’d see me arriving at the corner (where there was a lovely scarlet STOP sign waiting for his ass) and slow his momentum. Well, needless to say he didn’t stop at all (or slow down), and he damn near hit me at top speed. As he ran the stop sign he just shouted, “Sorry bro!” and sailed past.

It was so close, I felt a brush of wind that I imagined was just your standard rudeness at high velocity.