Street Story: Walking on the Sidewalk & The Need for Enforcement

I was walking a few days ago in a quiet residential neighborhood (a few blocks from my house). I was on my way back from a public park after an intense exercise workout. As I went walking down the sidewalk, rather fatigued from my workout, a car came suddenly barreling in reverse out of a driveway. I quickly stopped and yelled “Hey!” The driver apologized sheepishly at first, but as he started driving away remarked, “You might also look out for cars too.”

“You might also look for cars”!! Here I was, walking on this sanctified piece of “pedestrian infrastructure,” the sidewalk, which I don’t object to ipso facto, except for the fact that in the absence of appropriate enforcement it is clearly USELESS. Obviously, it wasn’t enough that I was on the sidewalk. Naturally, even on this dedicated piece of “pedestrian infrastructure,” I was still in danger from errant motorists.

I guess one take-home lesson could be that I shouldn’t be doing vigorous exercise in our public parks, lest I become too fatigued to pay constant vigilance to motor vehicles even while walking down the sidewalk. I, however, prefer to draw from this unnerving episode the take home lesson of the need to impose sufficiently drastic legal penalties on motorists who injure or kill bystanders that they, the machinery operators, will be convinced of the need to take primary responsibility for the safe operation of their heavy machinery, instead of leaping so quickly for the self-serving unction that I, the bystander, “might also look out for cars too.”

-Guy Berliner

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