Friday, 20 January 2012

Slow Walking to Nowhere

What’s the theory behind slow walkers?

There is nothing worse that coming across a gang of oblivious slow walkers, strolling side by side, clogging the footpath while they amble to wherever they’re not going to be anytime soon. Obviously they have nowhere to be, but don’t they get bored spending so much time walking nowhere on footpaths?  Do they know they are going so slow? Or do they just think that everyone else is walking too fast?

Its a worldwide problem. Here's an inspired solution from New York City...

Slow walkers are habitually unaware of their surrounds, and generally walk aimlessly in the middle the footpath, four or five abreast, in snail paced gangs.  Together they form an impenetrable human wall of footpath congestion.  Its not in a slow walker's nature to be alert and their reaction time is non existent, so evasive action to get past is left up to everyone else on the footpath.  You may notice them reacting to your presence with a shock, 20 seconds after you passed them, when you are already 10 meters clear.

Its important to know where slow walkers congregate in abundance.  In Melbourne, I wouldn't work anywhere west of Swanston St, as down that end there are so many tourists and students that you may not return fro days from a trip to the ATM. The eastern side of the city has the advantage of hills, which slow walkers avoid due to the increased degree of difficulty.

But they can’t be avoided all the time. I live on a major shopping strip, which on weekends, attracts slow walkers like slow flying bees to honey.  And here they are armed with shopping bags to increase their footpath coverage.  The footpath isn't particularly wide, so they need to be avoided to save yourself from being caught in an endless walk to frustration.  Thankfully, there are a few ways  to combat slow walkers from stealing your day away, minute by minute.

One option is to take the section of the footpath between the kerb and street signs and bus stops.  Slow walkers can’t strike here for a number of reasons.  Primarily, to know that it exists would take a level of awareness that slow walkers aren't capable of.  Looking around is just not something a slow walker wants to do.  Its also unattractive as its far too narrow for a gang of slow walkers to walk side by side.  And finally, this section of the footpath is full of obstacles, not to mention the kerb. It requires some basic concentration to navigate, and slow walkers are unwilling to concentrate at any point.  If a slow walker did find themselves here it wouldn't be long before they will have fallen over a rubbish bin, and end up rolling about on their back unable to get up like an upside down turtle.

I have nowhere to be anyway
Crossing roads is a good way to catch and overtake a slow walker.  Jay-walking is completely against the slow walker’s raison d’ĂȘtre, so is a great way to beat them.  You may be risking your life on the road, but its worth it, you’re lost in limbo behind a slow walker anyway.  If the traffic is too busy, thanks to the slow walker’s lack of awareness and general unfitness, there is a usually a 5 second delay between the pedestrian light flashing green, and the slow walker realising its time to move.  The key is to get to the front position at the kerb, even if it means an evasive lateral detour a few meters down the street you’re crossing. Never wait behind a stationary slow walker, they are even more effective when not moving.

But be careful, some pedestrian lights are trickier than others...

watch where you step

Slow walkers still stealing your time? Try this. Problem solved. The narrator is a bit of a worry, but he's on a winner...

1 comment:

Xavier said...

I sometimes find loud swearing & just a slight tap on the back of the heels also moves people out of the fairly quickly. Maybe knock one of the shopping bags just to let them know your there, with a follow up snarl & they'll usually clear a path.

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