Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Walking on the Sidewalks Shouldn't Be So Hard

Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Image from www.failblog.org

I know this might seem like a minor issue, but it's one that really does put pedestrians and drivers in danger. Why is it so common for people to walk down the middle of the street? I've lived near Como Lake in St. Paul, in Uptown, and in SoMi, and I haven't seen this kind of behavior anywhere nearly as often as I do here.

Now before folks think I'm acting like a crotchety old fogey, I do understand...

...about the snow. When sidewalks aren't shoveled consistently and properly, where is someone supposed to walk? But with better enforcement and slumlords easing their guilty consciences, hopefully this problem can be mitigated somewhat.

And I can think of at least ONE good reason to walk down the middle of the street. Okay, two, although the latter is just crossing the street, not walking with or against traffic.

Even so, tonight as I was driving around Hawthorne and Jordan, I almost ran into people at least twice because they were walking in the middle of the street. In both cases, the sidewalks on the block were clearly shoveled and walkable. And in both cases when I honked at them, they looked at me as if it were MY FAULT. I'm surprised people or other vehicles haven't been hit more often when drivers have to swerve at the last moment like this.

For emphasis, I repeat: down the MIDDLE of the street. Even if sidewalks were an issue, no attempt was being made to walk as close to the edge of the street as possible.

The problem goes further as it's not just kids that do this and it doesn't just happen in the wintertime. I've seen adults who should know better - even walking STROLLERS down the middle of the street in JULY. I've ran across groups of at least a dozen kids who walk down the middle of the street like they OWN it (also in the summer).

I'm naming this as an issue in NoMi and asking our fine men and women of the MPD to help us keep pedestrians on the sidewalks or at least out of the middle of the road.


Margaret said...

Yup. Worst is people jaywalking on Plymouth or some other busy street wearing dark clothes at night. And when you jam on the breaks, they look at you like you are at fault. I don't think it's a NOMI custom. I think it's a custom borrowed from the southside of Chicago and other big cities where people do all their business in the street, kids play ball in the street and put up burn barrels and such.

Anonymous said...

"I've ran across groups of at least a dozen kids who walk down the middle of the street like they OWN it (also in the summer)."

And THAT is the problem. It's an intimidation factor and I hate it!

JNS Reader said...

I've always interpreted it as a form of social disobedience, although I could think of much safer ways to stick it to the man...

Ranty said...


I got yelled at by a twelve-year-old about this very thing yesterday... he wouldn't move from the place I wanted to park (in front of my house) and I rolled down my window and told him that streets were for cars and sidewalks for pedestrians.

And he was all like:

"Don't worry, I can walk wherever I want - I'm a pedestrian. We have right-of-way."

Ummm... ?


MikeT said...

You've hit a nerve with this. I get so annoyed when they cross the street any time, any where, they chose, and if you have the temerity to honk, you are glared at. It's as if they don't understand what happens when metal and flesh collide.

veg*nation said...

lol--well, as long as we're talking about pet peeves, mine is people smoking INSIDE the bus shelters, especially when it's raining, or really cold outside. i rarely say anything about it, because once someone has started smoking in the shelter, even if they leave they've already ruined it for asthmatics like myself. anyway, one time i did point out to someone that smoking really wasn't allowed in the bus shelter, and she kept denying that that was true, even after i called her attention to the large "no smoking" sign right over her head. but the best response, which i've received actually a few times when i've explained that i'm allergic to smoke is that the smoker blurts out automatically "well, i'm allergic, too!" . . . and then there's that awkward pause when they look down at the cigarette in their hand and realize that what they just said makes absolutely no sense. *sigh*

Johnny Northside said...

To everything being said here, ditto.

Now is the time for police to finally turn their attention to this constant livability crime. Murder and other serious crime is drastically down. I'd like to see the police be proactive and do something about this BEFORE some large group of young people gets run down in an icy street.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Yeah, veg*nation, I hear you on the smoking issue. Once, when I lit up, I had someone consistently ask me to put it out or go elsewhere. And here was the WORST part: She was, like, THREE PEWS AWAY from me!

Seriously though, I actually do try to be considerate of others when I'm having a cigarette. My opinion is that if I'm so dedicated to shortening my life span, I can put up with some slightly uncomfortable conditions like cold or rain.

carey joe howell said...

I can remember in years past several pedestrians were hit within a span of less than a year.
What happened to the drivers of the cars were that they were pulled out of their cars and beaten, at least one was beaten to death. It's not about sidewalks, do not kid yourself.

Anonymous said...

They might think it's intimidation, but it looks more like stupidity. I just figure they're too dumb to know the difference between a street and a sidewalk. Finally, I don't really care if they give me nasty looks, comments. Exactly why should I care what their opinion of me is?

Anonymous said...

OMG! Have you ever hit a nerve here?!. Walking in the street: It is idiocy. It is natural selection at its finest. It is one of the things, along with litter, that make living in NOMI the most challenging. When I see people walking in the street and when I see litter, I am reminded of how F*CKING STUPID some of the folks in this neighborhood are. If you cannot assimilate and adapt to simple, sensible norms, such as walking on the sidewalk and throwing your refuse in the refuse container, then either MOVE AWAY FROM HERE, GET KILLED BY A CAR, or CATCH A DISEASE FROM YOUR OWN SH*T... Any way you slice it, the world is better off without you!!!!

Anonymous said...

I always attributed this behavior to following the path of least resistance. In other words, it is often easier to walk on a plowed street than it is to walk on an often un-shoveled sidewalk.
My guess is that the street walkers are also the people who choose not to shovel. Hmm... Does that make them double lazy?

My wife, on the other hand, suggested to me that a guy and his five kids under five were walking down the middle of the street in order to be "in the middle" of any potential threats arising from either side of the street (such as pit bulls and/or assholes with weapons).

She got me thinking, I have to admit.

But, after witnessing this in the summer, as well, I'm closer to buying-in to the idea that such behavior is an attempt to evince dominance. Laughable.