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Mike Johnson '11: Shameful walking

When we were little, our mommies and daddies (or other analogous figures) all taught us how to cross the street: left, right, then left again. However, it seems that most students on campus forgot the rest of the lesson, which is that if you see a car in your trinary looking procedure, you need to stop walking.  As I walk up and down Brown Street in my travels on campus, I see more and more glaring offenses against this simple rule, and it's a wonder that more Brunonians haven't been swept off their feet by a passing bumper.

I've stood on many a corner and watched as Providence residents grow more and more agitated as they watch student after student dart out in front of their cars, seizing the split-second reaction time it takes for a driver to move his or her foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator.  These students then mosey along the crosswalk, oblivious to the fact they are in the middle of a roadway, an infrastructure not devoted to them, but to automobiles.

Based on this sample of Brown's interaction with the community, it's no wonder they want us to pay extra money to go to school here.

There are some who watch this self-interestedness take place and stand on the corner to allow a car or two to pass. Amazingly, the other students around them usually just jostle these considerate sorts as they leap onto  the road to cross. After a while, the people  who had originally stopped see  that the car is now stuck waiting and take  the opportunity to cross.

Frustrated beyond belief, at the next opportunity the driver guns his engine and speeds through the crosswalk, garnering glares and scoffs from students in the area who aren't oblivious to others around them.

But pedestrians aren't the only culprits in this seeming amnesia regarding sidewalk protocol: I'm looking at you, bike riders. It is neither safe nor courteous to zoom around people, performing the pedestrian slalom on your way to class, jacket flapping behind you like a superhero's cape. Unless you actually are a superhero, and are off to prevent Lex Luthor from building the new Swim Center out of Kryptonite, then slow down.  I've also seen some walking their bikes down Brown Street, talking to friends who are doing the same. If you both have bikes, you should both ride them and stop clogging the sidewalk.

Still more aggravating are the cyclists who come up the wrong way on the sidewalk as they perform their weaving. This results in the inevitable game of chicken, in which the rider comes straight at a pedestrian, daring him to move or get used to tire tracks on his face. 

Even the very name of that concrete strip next to the road should be a cue that bikes are not welcome: it's a sidewalk, not a "sideride" or "sidecycle." Legally, bicycles are supposed to ride in the street, subject to the same traffic laws as automobiles.  They are to remain off the sidewalks, which, according to state law, are there for pedestrians. So, bike riders, take your wheels and your slaloming to the streets and pick on someone your own size.

Now I realize that as Brown students, we're restricted by class schedules, and we all have appointments to make. But honestly, what's the rush?  Nothing negative ever came from a leisurely-yet-strangely-quicker-than-molasses stroll across campus to get to class. One is able to take in the wonders of Providence, from the frantic squirrels jumping out of garbage cans to the man peddling delicious, delicious kettle corn outside the bookstore. 

Brown gives us 10 minutes to get from one class to the next, and if on my short stubby legs I can make it from the Pembroke seal to Faunce Arch in about five minutes, then there's no reason that a normal-sized person can't match my pace.

Be courteous. Don't jump in front of cars — there are other people living in this city with places to be and their schedules may just take them through the intersection of Brown and Waterman during the unfortunate period between ten-of and the hour.  If you like to ride your bike, don't knock over fellow students; it's simply bad form. We don't have to be the douchiest people on the sidewalks just because GQ says we are.

So take your time and enjoy the scenery. If what you're rushing to is an exam or that paper you haven't started despite it being due tomorrow, then what's the big hurry anyway?

Mike Johnson '11 thinks it's okay to jaywalk for kettle corn.


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