• By: OLM Staff

Bette’s Etiquette Beat- Pedestrian Politesse Part II

As mentioned already,  this month’s topic is one that is near and dear to me. Hence my musings are a little more lengthy this time around. Blame it on the heat!   Enjoy Part II of Pedestrian Politesse. Happy Canada Day!

Scenario 1:  Crosswalk Conundrum

The light changes and the little white figure is illuminated giving you the go ahead to start crossing the street. At a designated crosswalk, it is the yellow light that is flashing. All systems go, right?  Unfortunately despite all the signs saying you have the green light to proceed, other modes of transport on the road do not always see it that way.

I love Westboro and used to live there. However, on an afternoon walk last week, I had two encounters with vehicles  (and no, I was not jaywalking) that challenged my pedestrian politesse-big time! While crossing the road on a green light, a car on the same green light advanced to make a left turn in the direction I was crossing.  As soon as I reached the half-way point of my journey, the car completed it ‘s left turn major violating my space. Illegal? Not sure. Rude and dangerous- 100%!  In my efforts to say calm-I admit there were some theatrics on my part- I could not help but wonder: What if I had changed my mind and doubled back? What if my purse had opened and spilled all over the road?  It’s not so much about rights as it is about being safe and also potentially ruining someone’s day by having them become part of the pavement… ouch!

Same rules apply for crosswalks. It will take all of ten seconds- okay 30 if someone is using a walker or slower- but be your most mannerly and wait until the pedestrian has made it to the other side.

On the same afternoon while waiting to cross at a light, I was very impressed the way a young father was explaining to his young sons (all on bicycles) how it was important to pay attention to streetlights and signs when riding on the road. No sooner than our light turned green, the little roadsters (followed by dad) put their pedals to the pavement (oblivious to me who was crossing at the same time) and made that urgent right turn. And I thought it was a biking tutorial.  Note to Dad: Next time you may want to include a line or two about pedestrians and respecting their space when giving the young ones the road safety lesson.

Scenario 2: Parking Garage Goliath

Another of my pet peeves as a pedestrian is the storefront-parking garage.  How many times have you been walking on the sidewalk, only to have your stride interrupted by a car emerging from the lot and onto the sidewalk? As pedestrians we need to be mindful of such downtown dangers so when approaching a garage exit remember to look before you continue walking.  The car might not. In the end, if you are run down (heaven forbid) does it really matter that you had the right of way?  Drivers, please remember us streetwalkers, who may not be as attentive as we should be and when exiting the garage, please treat it the same way as you would entering a busy intersection.  We don’t walk in the middle of your parking ramps; please don’t drive on our sidewalks. It’s all we have!

My anecdotes were written in the spirit of being mindful of others as we enter the summer months. Consider the influx in the number of locals and tourists that converge on our streets during the next few months. Many of whom are  travelling by foot.  Whoever (or whatever- strollers and dogs included) you share public space with, please remember at all times to show others your neighbourly best. When someone allows you to pass – like a lovely, elderly gentleman did to me to the other day, acknowledge it with a thank you or a smile. Same if you need to get by someone, making eye contact and  “excuse me” often does the trick- and I bet your curb-side civility will make that person’s day!  And while it would be great to run into you over the summer, let it not be because you are sending a text and walking, and therefore did not see me coming- my final sidewalk snafu.

You can send your thoughts (and any questions) on this month’s topic or any other etiquette related queries to me at lizbetr@sympatico.ca. I will respond in a future column.

Glad you dropped in-you are always welcome.