The World According to Keitho

Just another weblog

Drivers vs pedestrians: Either way I lose.

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2010

Those of you following my escapades in my new west coast locale  know that I have a somewhat complicated relationship with the Bay Area drivers.  To put it bluntly, I hate them.  But here’s something different:  I also hate the pedestrians.  

In New York City, which I have come to realize is one of the great driving towns, the pedestrians and the drivers have a pact.  In fact, we have two pacts —  that’s how hip we are.  First, the peddie-pact:  My ability to cross the street is directly proportional to the distance of your approaching vehicle from my body.  It’s really quite simple.  The farther away you are from the car, the better the chance of a successful crossing.   

Now let’s hear from the driver:  My inclination to stop ends with your indecision.  In other words, if you cross the street we will stop, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to waste time waiting for you to make up your mind.  Just do it!

Here on the left coast  the pedestrians clearly have the upper hand and they are not shy about letting you know it.  They boldly step into the street without so much as establishing eye contact with the driver.  They don’t even look at you, which annoys me to no end.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but on the one hand you have a two ton vehicle, and on the other hand you have yourself.  Even allowing for the fact that you are an American I would guess that the weight advantage goes to the driver.  AT LEAST LOOK AT ME! 

 On top of that, if you dare to say anything to a pedestrian he/she will become tetchy and defensive.  A few weeks ago I was stopped at a red light about to turn right.  (Yeah, right on red.  Suck on that, New York!)  Just as I was inching up to turn two guys stepped into the cross walk.  One of them glared at me and shouted, “Hey!”  So I put my hands up in the universal sign of ‘what’s the matter?’  He shouted back, “Don’t give me any attitude!  Don’t start with me…” 

What the fuck?!   I didn’t say anything!  In New York they would have just walked around me, or I would have made my turn to get out of their way —  no muss, no fuss.  Here it’s a federal case if you don’t drive like a 75-year-old Iowan paster.  (I don’t want to hear about it from the Iowans….I’M IN NO MOOD)

Now let’s examine my down-the-street neighbor, who darted in front of my car just to tell me I was driving too fast.  (I wasn’t)  He proceeded to lecture me on the dangers of speeding on a local street.  ‘I get it, oh righteous, smug one.  Can I leave now, or do you want to go over weights and measures too?’  I think he was hoping that I would have run him over so as to prove his point.  And I thought folks were supposed to be laid back here.

While I’m on a roll [even though this has nothing to do with driving or walking]  let’s give a shout-out to our next door neighbor who called the cops on my 16-year-old son for playing his electric guitar too loud.  At 3PM!  The cops were actually apologetic about having to ask him to lower the volume.  The guy could have come over and talked to us, but instead chose the Bay Area method.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve only been here a brief time so I’m giving the cool people a chance to make themselves known to me.  So far the locals have made an unfortunate first impression, but I’ll give them this:  They’re not the ones that are going to have to modify their behaviour.  Besides, you all can see it coming — it’s only a matter of time before I get my first moving violation.

The ball is in my court.  I’ve got to relax, take a deep breath, put some Michael McDonald on the car-stereo, and drive like an Iowan.


5 Responses to “Drivers vs pedestrians: Either way I lose.”

  1. 757rubicon said

    My job is to investigate traffic fatalities. Great job, right? Well, I’ve been to plenty of crashes where the pedestrian felt they had the right-of-way and just stepped into traffic. Some of them were drunk, some on their cell phone and others just crossed for no obvious reason. Of course it didn’t end well for them.

    I can certainly relate to your frustration. My best advice is what you’ve already proposed. Stay alert, stay calm, and just let them cross. It’s not worth the aggravation and the driver that hits a pedestrian always seems to have an uphill battle in proving they weren’t in the wrong.

    Good luck.

    • Welcome rubicon. I think once I’m here long enough I’ll naturally slow down to their pace. In all seriousness I can’t think of anything worse than running somebody over. So yeah, I’m going to try to be mellow.

      Zapple, that was a great line and I’m not above stealing it.

      Blair, I’m the Bill O’Reilley of the automobile. The O’Keith’O factor!

  2. zapple100 said

    You live in SF and somebody tell you to lower the volume on the guitar? Garcia must be rolling over in his ashes (lol).
    Your right about crossing the street. If you can make it go, if not, let the cars pass, then go. I thought that was common sense.

  3. bkivey said


    You’re killin’ me dude! You come off like a liberal but you have the attitude of a conservative. Not a dis, just an observation. Welcome to the World!

    Blair Ivey

  4. StewieJT said

    I think it’s the same in London as New York. Obviously no-one will deliberately hit you if you walk, but they expect you to be quick and judge well! I get most annoyed by the cyclists who seem to think they’re invincible and that every traffic sign mean ‘go’ to cyclists! Red light = ‘go’; ‘pedestrian cross’ = weave in between pedestrians! They also enjoy killing themselves by stupidly trying to squeeze past turning trucks. Darwin’s theory in action.

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