Monday, April 1, 2019

Urban Walking

You would think walking as a form of transportation would be pretty straight forward and relatively simple but in many cities--my city included--being a pedestrian can be deadly (our city set a record with 78 pedestrian deaths in 2017!).  If you enjoy walking, whether for exercise or transportation, consider these safety tips:

  • Walk facing traffic (at least you will see if a car is heading at you and can react appropriately).
  • Cross at marked crosswalks (and follow the lights, if it says "don't walk", don't walk).
  • When crossing at marked crosswalks, keep your head on a swivel.  People drive through crosswalks without paying attention all the time and pedestrians can be hit and killed even when they are doing everything right.
  • Beware of mid-block crosswalks and crosswalks painted on the ground but without lights--many drivers don't know about or notice these kinds of crosswalks are are more likely than not to drive through these without seeing pedestrians until they are on the hood of their car.
  • Don't jaywalk.  If you must jay walk make sure it is a short distance across the street and there are no cars anywhere near you on the road (in my city people try to jaywalk across eight lanes of fast moving traffic; it doesn't usually work out well for the pedestrian).
  • Choose the safest walking route.  For your safety, routes with little traffic are better than high-trafficked roads, routes with houses and businesses are better than rural, secluded routes where you can't seek out help if needed.
  • Don't be a target for crime (don't carry valuables, walk with purpose, avoid "bad" areas where you are likely to get jacked, pay attention to your surroundings, etc).
  • Carry a weapon if necessary (this can vary from a concealed carry handgun to pepper spray to trekking poles).
  • Have your phone with you so you can call an Uber if you get into trouble or can't walk as far as you thought you could.
  • Always carry a little hidden cash to cover emergencies (and lunch/snacks along the way).
  • Bring the basics (sunglasses, appropriate clothing, suntan lotion, bottle of water, snacks, ID, umbrella, etc).
  • Layer your clothing so you can put on layers if you are cold and take off layers if you get hot while walking.
  • Know the local bus routes.  Again, if you can't complete your trip for any reason and don't want to call an Uber, just hop on the city bus to get you to your destination.
  • Wear good shoes (I see people, mostly young people, walking in flip flops for a good distance and am mystified at their choice of footwear).
  • Be lit up like a Christmas tree from dusk to dawn.  The number of people walking at night wearing all black clothing is incredible in my city.  They are usually jaywalking too and end up as roadkill simply because drivers can't see them until it is too late.  Lights, flashers, chemical light bracelets or sticks, reflective vests or clothing...all of these things make you easier to see when it is dark.
  • Skip walking when it is too dangerous to do so--during period of high heat, when there is ice or snow on the ground, during dust storms, etc.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings (this means don't be talking on your phone, don't have earbuds in your ears so you can hear what is going on around you, etc).
  • More on paying attention to your surroundings: listen for runners and bicyclists if you are on a community trail, be aware of people driving slowly near where you are walking to avoid being kidnapped, if you see something suspicious change routes/directions, give people walking dogs a wide berth, make noise if you are on trails where there is wildlife, etc.
  • Walk with a friend for added safety, if you don't have a friend to walk with consider getting a dog.
  • Bring your EDC kit with you so you will be prepared for any emergency.

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