Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Letter from Pedestrianica.5

From where I stand, here on this corner, waiting for a pause in the constant stream of traffic, I’d like to propose the abolishment of the button we must press in order to safely WALK. What would such a world look like? It wouldn’t be Pedestrianica, that’s for sure, but rather a weak imitation. Pedestrianica isn’t reformist, it is utopian. But my refusal to take that superfluous step toward the WALK button is, funny enough, a first step in building up a walkable world.

The WALK button is an absolute slap in the face to the pedestrian. Are we Pavlov’s dogs, city planners, is that how you see us? You’ve already created a terrain in which the pleasure of walking is but a footnote, if that. And then you go and implement this device that has no function, besides that of making us wait.

The WALK button does not hasten the changing of the light (as it should, it absolutely should). Is it there as a placebo for our frustration, as something for us to hit? Does it take any more energy for the WALK sign to appear automatically with the green light? Why offer us a false sense of power we do not have? 

If we approach the light after it’s already gone green, and didn’t notice when it changed, we have to wait another complete cycle in order to cross. And the ultimate Pedestrianican indignity: We must veer from our paths in order to press it.

Having to step behind light poles to push the button can obscure us from the view of turning cars. Making every passerby press a useless button is also a good way to spread infectious disease. And if our arms are full, the WALK button gives our burden an awkwardness we don’t deserve. It is the cars who are the awkward ones, who must circle in search of a place to rest; pedestrian movement should never be impaired by the motorist’s lack of flow. 

In case you need reminding, here’s a partial list supporting the supremacy of the pedestrian: cars smell bad, are loud, take up way too much space, are deadly (they killed nearly 7,000 pedestrians during the last decade in California alone), and rely on fossil fuels that are the cause of endless wars and drastic levels of pollution in every corner of the world.

Pedestrians, doo doo doo, are just out for a walk. The lights should bow before us when we approach.

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