I recently changed my walk to work. Well actually, I changed jobs and therefore my route to work changed. I don't know what it is about this new route, but there seem to be a lot of daredevil pedestrians on it.
I've written about my walking bugbears before, as well as some of the many issues I've had with cyclists, but I've generally avoided being too harsh on my fellow pedestrians. I'm afraid though, that this approach is no more.
In the last few weeks, I've seen some pretty shocking behaviour which has left me thinking that it's no real surprise that both drivers and cyclists get angry with the Capital's pedestrian population. Some people are giving all of us a bad name.
There are the things that seem to happen routinely, such as people running over crossings when the red man is still very much in evidence. Now, I have been known to do this too, but only when there isn't any traffic coming (including cyclists). These people on the other hand seem to view oncoming traffic as something that should bend to their will and stop for them to cross, regardless of what the traffic lights are doing.
And then there are the acts so supremely stupid that all I can do is stand on the side of the road looking shocked and sympathising with the driver/cyclist involved (not a feeling I often have). The most recent example of this took place as I was walking home the other day and is, I think, illustrative of a bigger problem with those who traverse London on foot....
I was walking along a main road and came to a crossing where there was a side road coming from my left out onto the main road. The red man was on and there was a queue of traffic on the main road waiting to turn right down the side road. Now, in this situation, I always look behind me to see what the traffic on my side of the main road is doing. Is there oncoming traffic that will stop the queue on the other side from turning right straight away? Is any of that oncoming traffic also planning to turn down the side road? If there is oncoming traffic that isn't turning, then I'll cross, as I know the cars can't turn. If, on the other hand, that isn't the situation then I stay put.
Not so for the woman who reached the crossing at about the same time as me. No, no, apparently she'd never been told that you're supposed to look both ways when you cross the road. Instead, she noticed that the cars on the side road were stopped and just walked straight out in front of a car that was turning down the road.
As if this wasn't stupid enough, she saw the car and stopped dead right in front of it, then looked at the driver as if he should be able to go around her to carry on down the road. There were cars coming from the other direction, so the driver couldn't get round her and this was pretty obvious to everyone present, apart from her apparently. She did eventually get the message and back towards me on the pavement, until the driver could just squeeze by, but her attitude appeared to be conveying annoyance rather than any apology. People like this make me angry.
On the same walk home, I saw two other people walk out into the road without checking properly both ways. One of them nearly got hit by a justifiably angry cyclist. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure that as a child the first thing I was taught about crossing roads was that you look both ways. And even if you hadn't been taught that (though let's face it, your parents would have to be pretty laisse faire not to teach you this), surely it's just obvious?!
Another particularly worrying incident occurred when I was walking along New Oxford Street towards Tottenham Court Road. I came to a very busy crossroads, with three lanes of traffic waiting for the green light. Pedestrians had been crossing with the green man, but that had gone off and everyone had stopped as it was evident the cars would soon be on the move. Or at least, almost everyone. The cars started moving, and pretty much at the same time, two women wandered out into the road. They didn't even scuttle, or run, they just meandered right out in front of moving traffic. And then when people started beeping at them, unsurprisingly, they just laughed and carried on. One of them very, very nearly got hit by a moped. I think my face on seeing this was probably quite a picture....I mean just how stupid do you have to be?
I hate to highlight issues with fellow pedestrians, as I have enough problems with cyclists and drivers doing idiotic things (if they could indicate once in a while for example, that would be very helpful), but I just have to say this.... Pedestrians of London, please stop making us all look bad and follow the basic rules of the road. I really don't want to be witness to a serious accident, but given the frequency with which I see this kind of thing happening, I'm starting to think it's just a matter of time. Please prove me wrong!
Happy (and safe) walking!
About The Author
32-year-old ex-Londoner returned to the north. Writing about how walking has changed my life for the better.