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Distracted walking can be a thing too

As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I’ve been doing more walking, mainly because the weather has been decent, and also because I’ve always enjoyed walking.

That extra time on the sidewalks (for the most part) of Prince George has also meant I’ve seen more pedestrians than I normally do and for a longer time each. I mean think about it, if you’re driving and you see a pedestrian on the sidewalk, the odds are you only catch a glimpse of them for half a second, and then they’re gone – unless they do something to catch your attention, like step off the curb into the middle of traffic without looking.

While that would obviously catch your attention as a motorist, I’m amazed when I’m out for a walk – most of which last between 30 and 60 minutes – how many pedestrians I see doing unwise (to put it mildly) things.

If I’m walking during the day, when there are more people out and about, I almost always see at least one person walk off the sidewalk without looking. It’s bad enough when they do it at an intersection, where drivers at least can usually see them, but there are some who just walk off the sidewalk whenever they want, which is a good way to get a trip to the hospital.

Despite what some people I have talked to believe, pedestrians do not have the right of way whenever and wherever they want to cross the street. My basic understanding is if they cross at an intersection, whether or not there is a marked crosswalk, they have the right of way.

However, just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean you’re going to be safe just walking off the sidewalk into the middle of the road. Stop at the corner, make sure drivers see you AND are stopping (not always go-togethers in Prince George, I have found) and then cross the road.

I also almost every time I’m out see someone walking and staring at their cellphone at the same time. Obviously it’s not illegal, but it can be stupid, for a few reasons.

First, you’re not the only person on the sidewalk. If you’re just ambling down the middle of the sidewalk, oblivious to anything except the earth-shaking information on your phone, there’s a good chance you’re going to run into someone.

What I have seen a few times and always get a kick out of is when two people, each on their cellphone, walk into each other. I find it poetic justice for each of them.

The other things I have seen a few times is people almost fall over when, staring at their cellphone, they walk off the curb and suddenly find their foot going a few inches further down than they expected.

So please, even if you’re on two feet instead of two wheels or four, pay attention when you’re out and about.

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