Let me throw out a “what if” scenario.
Let’s assume some guy was dating some girl. Let’s assume that they were walking down a busy street on a sidewalk. Let’s assume that the guy was walking on the street side while the girl was walking on the side further away from the street. Let’s assume a car came out of nowhere and smashed into both of them, killing them instantly. The fact that the guy was walking on the street side would have added no additional protection in the least.
Yet strangely, there’s a group of people out there who will always insist that it is necessary (if you care about them) to walk on the street side of the sidewalk in an attempt to keep them safe from the ambiguous dangers of the ‘crete. (Concrete, that is.)
While the sidewalk protectorate factor is not often spoken of, it is something that I have come in contact with over and over again. Apparently, just like opening the door to the car and a building… And just like asking the opposite sex out on a date… Chivalry being not dead apparently extends to the act of walking on the street side of the sidewalk so that you are in the position to fully protect your co-walker in the event that something disastrous happens.
I say the side of the sidewalk NOT facing the street is the more dangerous side of the sidewalk.
I can think of a thousand dangerous things on the non-street side of the sidewalk. From local business owners tossing out rotten fish guts at the end of the business day to bicycle riders weaving in and out of the safe side of the sidewalk to doors opening and closing and awnings with the potential to come crashing down on the “safe side” of the sidewalk — the fact of the matter is that the safe side is not the safe side at all.
So why do particular people insist that if you don’t walk on the street side of the sidewalk, you are basically alluding to the fact that you couldn’t care less about their safety?
The dangerous things that could come at you from the street side of a sidewalk will not only kill me, but they will kill you as well. A careening truck carrying huge dumpsters will crush us both. An out-of-control vehicle will get both of us at the same time. Loose nuclear waste spraying forth from a nuclear waste-carrying truck will both spray both of us (think about the arc of spraying nuclear waste and you’ll see what I mean). Huge loose ball bearings from a local construction site, will get us both.
And if we’re talking about dangerous criminals wielding guns and looking for people to rob — these people don’t hang out in the street — they hang out under awnings and behind magazines waiting for the person on the “safe side of the sidewalk” (who happens to be accompanied by another person who happens to be concentrating more on the dangers that COULD be coming from the street instead of the guy about to rob you) to walk by, cluelessly.
The safe side of the sidewalk is not safe after all.
So instead of being annoyed that I don’t always instinctively walk on the street side of the sidewalk in an attempt to protect you from the dangers of the mid-day traffic, perhaps we should create an object that can protect both of us no matter where we are walking. Perhaps a neoprene bubble fortified with teflon that we can walk freely inside of is the way to go. Or perhaps lobbying local law makers to erect huge walls where the street and sidewalk meet (like freeway walls) is the choice of the day.
Or even better, you could just stop thinking that the street side of the sidewalk is the dangerous part of the path and not worry about which side I stand on from this day forth.
Sidewalk, schmidewalk I always say.
And I think, when you really take the time to reflect upon that intellectual statement — you’ll totally agree.