Oct 30, 2013

People in the Street

Each city has a flavor.  There are things that distinguish it from other cities.  Nobody walks in LA.  In Atlanta, people (mostly men) feel it is impossible to run with a shirt on.  Jerusalemites park with half the car on the sidewalk.  In San Francisco, I have noticed a little idiosyncratic thing that pedestrians do.  They ignore the difference between sidewalk and street.  I don't mean everybody.  I don't mean all the time, but enough so that it is "a thing".

I acknowledge that there are things to legitimately do in the street in an urban area.  Cross streets.  Walk to the driver's door of your car.  Fetch a ball that has rolled into the stretch.  Hold a farmer's market. Run a marathon.  This post is about the OTHER times when people are in the street.

I noticed this happening awhile ago.  I've been here over a year after all.  I only started keeping track recently.  When I say that people ignore the difference between sidewalk and street, I mean that they walk to their cars in the street (more than the length of a couple of cars).  They wait for the bus or a friend in the street.  They play in the street.  The wander in the street.  They stroll and pick up quarters in the street.

It is seriously scary sometimes to see people act as if there are no cars.  It is seriously annoying when I stop my car for a pedestrian crossing...only to find out that no, the guy doesn't want to cross, he's just standing there because, you know, it is a nice place to stand.

As of this post, I have seen people in the street for apparently no good reason for 18 days in a row.  That is not including the skateboarders and the film crew filming them, the marathon or people crossing the street.  It is including the guy walking along the double yellow line, the guy who walked out of a crosswalk into the intersection to get a quarter while I was about to make a left turn into his head, the people who think that buses come faster if you stop them with your body and the people who wait for the DON'T WALK to turn to WALK while blocking cars from turning right by standing 5 or more feet into the crosswalk.

What do people in your city do?

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