The dangerous pedestrian

13 Jan

So I’ll state the obvious, I am a cyclist. But sometimes I am a pedestrian, a car driver and a train/tram/bus taker. However, for the point of this post, I am a cyclist.

There are many articles that have been written over and over again repeating the facts about how dangerous it is to ride a bike as a truck or car will take you out. Then there’s the articles on how cyclists are a danger to themselves, riding two or more abreast (although it is legal to ride two abreast just in case you didn’t know), running red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, taking a whole lane (although it is legal for cyclists to do that too). However, there’s not many out there about the pedestrian.

I ride along the docklands hwy/footscray rd shared path to and from work. It’s a pretty good path, however a shared path does bring about its problems. Apart from the lycra wearing stereotypical cyclist who has to smash this certain strava segment so they can brag to their colleagues or cycling mates, there’s the ignorant and rude pedestrian that believe footpaths are for them, and them only. There’s different types of pedestrians on a shared path. There’s the serious runner/walker who has their earphones in and have not a care in the world. They have no idea if you ring your bell or not before you pass, and then some of them have the nerve to tell you to ring your bell, even though you did. I once slowed down and replied to one of these runners that if they took their earphones out they might have heard the bell that I rung. They looked at me weirdly as I was talking, then took their earphones out (I could hear the music) and asked “what did you say?”. Point made…

Then there’s the pedestrian who believes every cyclist, even though it is 5pm on a weekday with cyclist after cyclist riding past, that EVERY cyclist must ring their bell as they are passing them. Isn’t the first one enough? Just keep left people, we aren’t going to run you over! There is also the pedestrian who for some reason thinks walking on the right of the path, even though the lanes clearly mark which side you should ride on, is the polite thing to do? To be perfectly honest it just confuses the hell out of us and the cyclist becomes unpredictable due to the unpredictable behaviour of the pedestrian.

However, pedestrians also cross roads that cyclists are entitled to ride on, and nothing frustrates me more than working my way up to a stop light in a bike lane towards the bike box at the front of the lights when a pedestrian decides to take a shortcut and walk across the bike box. Is it so hard to walk between the pedestrian lines?! Saving two steps by cutting through the bike box isn’t going to get your destination a lot faster. I have nearly hit a pedestrian doing this as I was coming down a hill at a reasonable speed.

However, I recently started cycling down part of swanston street as part of my commute and have decided pedestrians waiting for trams will overtake the bike box pedestrians for me soon. There’s no tram, so why are you waiting in the clearly signed “keep clear” area? The area for cyclists? And why on earth do pedestrians cross Swanston street looking for trams, but forgetting about cyclists and nearly get run over by us. I had to brake suddenly a few weeks ago in Swanston Street as a pedestrian crossed the road without looking for cyclists, only trams. I braked hard, and fell off the bike. Luckily I was already travelling at a slow speed.

However, there’s another category of pedestrian. There’s the one that goes about their business, stopping at pedestrian lights, keeping to the left of footpath and thanking the cyclists for acknowledging in advance they are passing and also smile with a “good morning” as you pass. So unlike every other journalist or wannabe journalist, I know not to stereotype EVERY pedestrian into one of these whinging categories. The majority of pedestrians stick to the rules, there’s just a few who are idiots.

This blog post was only written after reading ‘Beware the lone wolf in Lycra‘ today. Just like there are idiot cyclists, there are also idiot pedestrians out there. So everyone needs to grow up, acknowledge there are idiot cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, car drivers, truck drivers and bus drivers and not categorise every *insert mode of transport here* person as an idiot just because a few are. 

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2 Responses to “The dangerous pedestrian”

  1. Pete January 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Just as a point of clarification – a big slab of that Docklands route is also actually a dedicated bike-path, in other words ‘no pedestrians’, as there is a perfectly good, wide footpath next to it.

    • Kat January 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Hi Pete,
      In the post I mention footscray rd/docklands hwy path. I head up Latrobe street, so don’t spend a lot of time on the segregated pedestrian/bike lane section along the docklands.
      Cheers :)

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