Lately when I’ve been driving around
campus and some ill-mannered student darts out in front my car,
I’ve found myself accelerating just a little bit more than I
used to. I don’t want to hit anyone, I just want to strike
some fear in the hearts of the ignorant and impolite.

Joel Hoard

Or as I have been walking quickly to class and a group of fellow
pedestrians insists on walking four abreast, thus blocking my path,
I’ve found myself letting my bag or elbow
“accidentally” bump one of them as I pass.

You see, I’ve spent three years of my life in Ann Arbor as
both a pedestrian and a motorist, and it has given me a unique
perspective on both modes of transit. I am typically very safe,
attentive and courteous whether on road or sidewalk, but negligent
and outright rude student pedestrians have tried my patience of
late.

My complaint about the poor quality of Ann Arbor’s student
pedestrians comes not from the perspective of an old, curmudgeonly
townie or an uninformed out-of-towner, for I am one of you —
a student, and it is as such that I am reaching out to help you
today.

Now, I understand that part of the blame lies with the city of
Ann Arbor itself. Roads are laid out poorly, there are four-way
stops where there should be traffic lights and constant
construction reroutes traffic and causes congestion. But that
certainly does not give one the right to behave like a squirrel and
run headlong into oncoming traffic. Even here in Ann Arbor, we must
abide by a basic set of rules, which, if you will indulge me, I
will lay out now:

“Don’t Walk” does not mean
“Walk”

This should really go without saying, but it doesn’t, so
I’m saying it. Walk/Don’t Walk signals are in place to
assist you, as a pedestrian, in crossing streets, so don’t be
afraid or embarrassed by using them. They are very simple in their
workings. They have two different icons that are displayed: The
first is in white and shows either a person or the word
“WALK.” This means you may safely proceed to the other
side of the street. If you are struck by a car while doing so, it
is not your fault. The second is in red and shows either a hand or
the words “DON’T WALK.” This means you should not
attempt to cross the street. If you disobey and are struck by a
car, it is your fault. One additional note: A blinking
“DON’T WALK” signal is the pedestrian equivalent
of the yellow light. It means run to the other side really
fast.

Obey the rules of the road

The basic rules of the road also apply to pedestrians. This
means that one should always pass on the left, and slower traffic
should keep to the right. This rule holds especially true in
doorways and on staircases, as they are cramped spaces.

Mind your group width

When traveling in groups of more than two, walk with no more
than two abreast, and try to remain as compact as possible —
no one should stray from the phalanx. Groups tend to move slower
than solo travelers, so they should at all times yield to
faster-moving traffic.

Don’t dawdle

Sidewalks are made for walking, not standing, hence the name. If
you would like to stop and talk with a friend, please move to a
nearby lawn, driveway or parking lot. Otherwise, remember what Pete
Rose did to Ray Fosse in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star game?
Yeah, it’ll be like that.

Don’t make eye contact with motorists

This gesture is interpreted as a threat by most motorists, and
not to mention it is simply rude. When you have the right of way
and a motorist is waiting for you to pass, it is best to lower your
head and move quickly to the other side. Also, it doesn’t
hurt to run or at least pretend to run, so as not to take any
chances.

Know your place

As a pedestrian, your body is largely unprotected from harm.
Motorists, on the other hand, have a ton of steel, aluminum and
other metals protecting them. As a general rule in life, when in
doubt, yield to large objects that have the potential to kill
you.

The prefix ped- means foot

Keep your goddamn bikes off the sidewalks.

Hoard can be reached at
“mailto:j.ho@umich.edu”>j.ho@umich.edu.

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