Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mooove over

Cow, Constantine Farm, near the Crossings Park, Colonie, NYI was walking over a lunch break at work recently when I encountered 3 ladies coming from the other direction.  As the distance closed, I scrunched to the right and in fairness there may have been a slight scrunching on their behalf, but it was not enough and I clipped elbows with the nearest member of the trio.  Such encounters have always fascinated me as I've frequently wondered why there isn't more collisions.  As the sidewalk constricts space and as the distance closes between two opposite traveling parties someone needs to make a quick decision as to who will "slide over".  For example, does a member of the trio position themselves ahead or behind their cohorts to yield space or do they make an attempt to "scrunch" to make it work as in my encounter?

Since my clipping, I have curiously watched such encounters a bit closer.  Other than staying to the right, there isn't clear guidance as to sidewalk etiquette.  Who moves seems to be a complex bouquet of audacity and courtesy.  In my mind, the sidewalk should be split 50-50 with half the space going to travelers going in one direction and the other half to those going the opposite direction.  However, this is not universal.  For example, in my encounter should the apportionment have been 4 ways so that 3 people get 75% of the space?  Should size matter?  If so, do we consider total size or just width?  Should those with more girth merit more sidewalk space?  Maybe I was encroaching on them?  And things can get dicier.

I've written in the past of male oppression and perhaps there is a remnant here.  In my instance, would it have been the "gentlemanly" thing to do to move over for the ladies?  What about the issues of age?  If you're a 30 something and encounter three 60 somethings traveling in the opposite direction should you show courtesy and move over, even if you need to move off the sidewalk to let them pass?  Or is 60 the new 50 so you don't have to move over unless they are 70 somethings?  Maybe the criteria isn't age; as age is "just a number".  Maybe the key is that you need to appear decrepit instead.  Certainly, I think most walkers who encounter 2 wheelchairs headed in their direction would likely make an accommodation for them... I don't see too many saying, "hold on there wheelchair person, I'm only taking my 50% here, you wheel your ass around me."   Likewise, I suspect most would have flexible accommodation for those who are blind or have a cane.

Before anyone starts to get the impression that I'm preaching to others I wish to make clear that I'm including myself in this dilemma.  I frequently walk Mick the Wonder Dog in Crossings Park in Colonie.  Mick shares the same problem as me - although we both have some age on us, we're both still hot and sexy so it may not be readily apparent that we don't move as fast as some may imagine.  Bicycles are a particular challenge for us as some are very fast and quiet (although Mick can't hear anyways and some family members have indicated that this author shares the same deficit).  I know there would be some who would quickly say that there should be a law.  We have too many laws already... instead what we need is an app for that.  I'm going to call it the "move your ass over app" whereby it calculates the speed of the user, detects humans in your path sends out an audible request to move over followed by a recalculation and if no appropriate response then a small electrical shock... well one can dream.

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