We are all pedestrians at some time or other even cabbies. The more familiar one becomes of a walking route, the lazier we become and the less likely we are to use pedestrian crossings.
Now here is a little secret you will not find one on any advert selling the ‘classic’ cab. The brakes are as efficient as a 1960s British car. Given that it has the stopping distance of an oil tanker.
[W]hy is it that pedestrians wishing to boycott a crossing choose to walk in front of a moving cab? From childhood we have had a squirrel called Tufty Fluffytail and the Green Cross Man played by Darth Vader among others explaining to us about the perils of ignoring the Highway Code when crossing the road. Unfortunately the more familiar one is regarding traffic flow and light sequences the more laissez-faire is our attitude with our mobile phone holding our attention more than two-tons of metal bearing down.
Near railway stations or shops a herd mentality is adopted as large groups gather to cross en masse regardless of the lights, common sense and courtesy seem forgotten in the throng of humanity.
The worst culprit is the sheep; engrossed in updating their status (one wonders whether their Facebook pages would be amended from beneath a truck) they follow the guerrilla pedestrians and cross the road without looking up regardless of the flow of traffic.
In order to shave a nanosecond from their journey tie the practise of cutting the corner when at a pedestrian crossing, only to be confronted by a vehicle intending to stop at the appropriate place in front of the crossing and not the 10 yards before as the kamikaze clown steps off the kerb.
The next culprit is the lonely vulnerable female, she cross at a pelican crossing when the lights are in the favour of the traffic, then stands Bambi like in the centre of the road waiting for a gullible driver to take pity and allow her to cross to the other side.
The biggest one of contention must be some of the London boroughs who refuse to replace zebra crossings with lights despite the fact that a conga line is walking across the road all day. Great Marlborough Street and Bedford Way are two of the worst offenders.
As I write this whilst sitting in my cab parked in the charming upmarket Edwardes Square in Kensington, a woman trying hurriedly to squeeze into the parking space in front has backed into me two times – see above. The second time she was assisted by her passenger who got out to help. No acknowledgement let alone an apology was given as they hurried off to their soirée.
In this chaotic city when customary courtesies seem to be forgotten whenever any of us sees tarmac I’d like to think there might be hope. But when I see parents picking up their children from school, teaching them to jaywalk across the road rather than use the lollipop lady stand a few feet away from them as they peer out at the oncoming traffic from behind the parked cars I sometime lose hope.
Main photo: UK, London, Shoreditch Fabio Venni