Thursday, November 15, 2007

Top Ten Examples of Bad Pedestrianship

Today was a miserable weather day, although it was just peachy when Darbs and I set off around Greenlake this morning. It is a small lake, about three miles around, just north of downtown. It is kind of ridiculous that I drive three miles to walk three, given that I live on a lake that is 7 miles around that we can walk in about an hour and fifteen minutes. By contrast, it takes about ten to drive to Greenlake, about thirty around, and another fifteen to get back home.

Despite the greater distance around my home lake, I walk faster at Greenlake and seem to get a much better workout. The sole reason for this is that Greenlake is populated with fitness walkers and runners and I am ridiculously competitive. I walk faster than anyone I know (and not in that goofy speedwalker kind of way), primarily because I am always looking ahead to identify someone I want to pass. In the rare event that there are limited targets, Greenlake also has every quarter mile marked off, such that I can easily sprint a quarter of a mile, jog a mile, walk a mile, lather rinse, repeat. I should, of course, go around twice in the mornings, and did this morning, but I am often running late and won't afford another half hour.

The other reason is that I tend to get pissy at Greenlake. This is because the walkers (primarily) and runners (on occasion) exhibit the same goddamn inconsiderations that you find in traffic. My top ten examples:

1. Greenlake permits inline skaters and bicycles, even though the actual running path is fairly narrow, as evidenced by this shot. Bicycles and inline skaters are relegated to the outside lane, which is perhaps four feet wide, while EVERYONE ELSE (joggers, walkers, dog walkers, parents with strollers) are limited to the inside lane. It is the same width, such that three people walking together completely obstructs the lane.

Which brings me to my first irritation: mommies and families who walk together in a horizontal line, oblivious to the fitness folks who have to walk around them. This is not unlike those folks on the freeway who fail to realize that the cars to their right and left are all going the exact same speed, oblivious to the cars behind them that are willing to risk the ticket and get trucking. Unlike on the freeway, of course, you cannot honk or flash your lights. You can be passive aggressive about it, darting on the dirt path to the left of the lane while loudly muttering about idiots, or you can be slightly more aggressive about it by elbowing your way among them -- kind of like Red Rover, Red Rover. This can sometimes lead to confrontation, FYI.

2. Related: bicyclists and inline skaters. Seriously, who bikes or skates just three miles? You can do that in minutes. They are just there to check out the chicks running in their sports bras. Seattle has an entire and vast freeway system for bicyclists, inline skaters and runners called the Burke Gilman trail that strongly favors wheels over legs. Bikers and skaters at Greenlake are just annoyances, not unlike those idiots who drive the humongous 4x4 vehicles with oversize tires on the freeway, obstructing the view of everyone else, but somehow still thinking they are the coolest folks on the road.

3. The random chatters. These folks positively kill me. They see someone they know, which is not an unusual occurrence at Greenlake, and stop mid-path, making everyone go around them. You know those fucking idiots who drive around with a map in their hands at 10-15 miles below the speed limit, instead of pulling over and figuring it out? Same exact people on foot.

4. Dog walkers with the expando leashes who let their dog meander all over the trail, forcing you to either jump the leash or walk around. First, bad dog parenting and poor human manners. Second, I keep my dog on a pretty short leash around Greenlake so that she doesn't feel free to obstruct the path of anyone else. Your dog doesn't feel so constrained and is prone to coming up to my dog to share a sniff. A free wheeling dog has a much different mindset than a tightly leashed dog, so mine is going to be threatened when yours can run circles around her.

You know those folks in traffic that do everything but drive? They eat, talk on the phone, apply makeup, yell at the radio, all the while their car is crossing the line between your car and theirs? Same exact folks on foot, only with a dog in the car to further distract them.

5. The morning smokers going for a stroll. Hell, I am all nothing if not sympathetic that this great state has taken away all of the pleasurable spots to publicly enjoy a shot of nicotine. Yet even when we could have a martini and a cigarette in a bar, at least then we knew that the patrons among us had assumed the risk. Booze and cigarettes in a bar are a national tradition, even if unhealthy and probably shameful. However, don't fucking smoke at a place where people come to be healthy. That is just lousy smoker etiquette and gives the whole smoker subspecies a bad name.

You know those cars who flick cigarettes out their window and they land on or in your car? Same people.

6. This is quasi-related to irritation #1, but the folks who have several young kids and have the massive, multi-child strollers? Hate. They take up the whole lane. There are other paths in the city (see, e.g. aforementioned Burke Gilman trail) that are better suited for your pedestrian-style SUV. I know what they drive. They have one of those behemoth Escalades or Expeditions, with DVD players in the back for each kid as a babysitter and a tool to avoid any semblance of engaging them.

7. Random gawker guy. Hey, I fully admit to being a people watcher and can and do make eye contact with folks that look interesting. That is so completely different from the guy who stares at your chest while running or, so much worse, the guy that reverts course or otherwise comes up to you, trying to strike up a conversation. I fully applaud people taking (social) risks like that, but if I haven't made eye contact or given any indication that I wanted a running partner? You are just going to startle the shit out of me. Not unlike the guy in the car next to you on the freeway who is pacing you, hoping you look over at him. Hardly the time to get to know you.

Also, should you deign to go out with him in a moment of misguided carpe diem, he will likely be rude to the service staff of one of your favorite restaurants, such that you will feel compelled to call said restaurant the next day to apologize.

8. Grunter guy. Dude, it is only three miles. Third graders can run it with ease. If you can't make it around without letting out tennis match-style grunts every few steps, perhaps you should consider a different, more private cardio activity. Particularly if I can hear you over my blasting ipod. I think you are the same guy that overuses his horn on the freeway, expressing both praise and disgust by a tap of his hand. Bothersome.

9. Counterpart: the speedwalker. Hey, I get it. I walk fast, albeit like a runway model listening to Peaches, but I am almost always concentrating on my rhythm and stride. Whatever works for you, I guess, and no judgment on that weird fucking form, but a personal plea. Spandex is best left for bikers. I have no need to know that much about you. I think you probably drive a car with a brazillion bumper stickers, wanting the world to know your position on places like El Salvador.

10. Cell phone/Bluetooth talker person. I hate you pretty much everywhere in the city, but you really piss me off at Greenlake. First, your cell phone/Bluetooth is not a walkie talkie and you need not elevate your voice to pep rally proportions to communicate your message. I appreciate the need to multitask and cross a few things of your daily to-do list. However, while I am occasionally riveted (to the point of walking or sprinting faster so I can catch the conclusion when I pass you again) as to whether your conversation partner will "EVER FUCKING GET IT," mainly, you just come across as an idiot who thinks that people will think them VERY IMPORTANT because they cannot sacrifice mobile communication for all of 45 minutes.

Yeah. I think Darbs and I should do the local lake tomorrow.

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