Back when apes first got up on their hind legs to give them the use of their hands there was significantly less foot traffic to deal with in everyday life. The early humans paved the way for us – in the Roman sense of building footpaths – and giving us the genetic model to suggest we should be on two feet. However, they didn’t have peak hour and trainloads of workers entering a footpath at the same time have to deal with.
I mentioned on one of our earlier shows in a Not Happy Len segment about the general population’s poor ability with walking down the street in Melbourne. It has struck me again, causing me to miss a train and be late. As a public transport user I am part of the masses that make their way into the CBD every day for the 9-5 grind.
There are people who walk quickly in this world and there are people that shuffle. I am a quick walker, and seemingly there are many people who walk at the slower pace but this is not the issue.
The problem is that most people are not conscious of what is around them when they walk. With the lack of mirrors and poor peripheral vision or just plain selfishness, most people walk a path without any awareness of who they might be disrupting in their stride.
Without the advent of walking lanes – fast to slow – being marked on all the footpaths and walkways there really is no other alternative. After much dwelling and consternation I have taken the liberty to offer you all a basic guide to rules of walking.
When walking on a footpath, walk in a straight line. Of course most people think that they do this but the number of times I try to overtake past a person and building only to be thwarted by some wayward walking and “lane” moves without indicating can almost cause an accident. Frustration is increased when the “over-taker” tries to accelerate and go around the other side only for the wobbly walker to sway back from where they came, blocking the “lane” again.
When exiting a doorway, train, tram, getting to a corner, be aware that there is moving traffic behind you before stopping. This is the most common error that people moving on their feet make. The simple solution is be aware that you are likely to stop. Its more than likely you are unfamiliar with your surrounds or uncertain of your exact location. Remember many of the other people in the world walking around you do know where they are going. When you think you are a chance to pause to take stock, identify a place out of the traffic flow, move to it and then take your respite.
Merging is another common mistake that people make and is closely linked to the ability to walk in a straight line. Often people do not look when a move diagonally is required across the footpath. This simple “head-check” that most of us pick-up when learning to drive, is transferable to the pedestrian existence. If you are to merge across someone else’s path, a simple “head-check”, then picking up the pace of your movement to ensure other walkers do not run into the back of you, should see you safely negotiate all merging activities.
There are many other basics, that could be covered at length, including; Always stand to one side of the escalator, be decisive, and most of all be aware that you are not the only person in the world who has to walk a particular path that day.
So whilst we have come along way from our early ancestors, it seems many of us can and should refine the skill of walking further still.