I would consider myself a professional pedestrian. In other words, I don’t own a car. In order for me to get from one place to another these days I have to tie up my Kirkland brand tennis shoes and walk there. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years I saw so many news reports of pedestrians being killed or injured by distracted drivers. I’m sure that all of you have been a pedestrian at one point or another. So, with this vast amount of experience of being a pedestrian I have come up with some helpful ways to help fellow pedestrians.
1. Assume that drivers don’t see you.
One of the first tips I would give is to assume that the drivers speeding by or even stopped at your cross walk don’t see you. I have said to myself after a driver just chooses not to look in my direction, “Yes, I don’t exist.” Then after a moment of being upset I smile and continue on my way.
2. Make sure to make eye contact with the driver at your cross walk or intersection.
This is very important. These days many drivers are texting, talking on their cell phones, or are simply in a rush to get where they are going. So, they often times don’t pay attention to pedestrians that are in their line of sight. A good rule of thumb is if they don’t look at you, assume they don’t see you and be very careful if crossing the street.
3. Be aware of your surroundings.
If you are walking on a sidewalk be aware of what’s around you. Often times there could be a bicyclist, skateboarder, or a jogger that can run into you from behind. Every once in a while, take a look behind you to make sure you are in the clear. I can’t tell you how many times I have almost collided with a bicycle that I didn’t know was behind me.
4. Only cross at a cross walk with the signal light is green and the little walking man light is on.
I am sure glad that cities have put it the cross walk man on their signal lights for pedestrians. It is a good indicator that it is safe to cross the street. I have to cross the street often near highway on and off ramps so I live by this rule. Many of these lights will give you a countdown to how much time you have to cross safely. I would recommend not crossing once a solid red hand shows up on the signal light.
5. If you choose to “jay-walk” make sure you have lots of space.
If you find yourself having to cross in the middle of a street for some reason, give yourself plenty of space between moving cars. I am guilty of being a jay-walker, but not as much anymore. I am a little older, and my joints are a little stiffer. Use extreme caution, and move as quickly as you can across the street. Also, make sure there aren’t any cars that are attempting to turn in the direction you’re trying to get to.
6. Don’t text and walk.
This may seem like a “no-brainer”, but you may be surprised by what you may run into. You may run into a mom jogging with a stroller or worse a street sign, ouch!
7. Show appreciation to courteous drivers.
When a car does yield to you the pedestrian, give a simple nod of the head or a wave in appreciation. I find that it is my way of saying, “Thank you for noticing me, and not hitting me with your car.” Another way to show appreciation to the driver is to move through the cross walk as quickly as you can.
Walking is a great way to get around and to get in some exercise. It does have its pitfalls, especially walking in urban areas, but hopefully these tips will make it a little safer.