A regular walk home from Bell-Trinity yesterday, up the eastern side of Bay Street. The sidewalk is crossed by several driveways that launch vehicles from underground ramps.
I have learned to be wary, both of vehicles that emerge at high-speed from Darkened Underground Ramps, and of vehicles whose drivers optimistically poke their cars out into the traffic, and then panic and slam the car into reverse.
I have learned to walk in front of the vehicle after making eye-contact. To walk behind the vehicle is to risk being crushed between the reversing vehicle and the one idling immediately behind it.
So it was yesterday: SUV launches, parks right across the sidewalk; driver is looking left, South, so it is easy for me to make eye-contact, which I do, and then I start to walk across the front of the vehicle.
At that point a loud shout greets me.
Turns out we have one of the Serve-And-Protect boys standing hard-up against the wall of the building, right by the ramp, staring out at Bay Street.
He feels his sworn duty is to preserve the rights of vehicular traffic; it’s not his fault that he has been yanked out of his patrol car and made to stand on foot. He is yelling something at me, that I know.
And that seems to be the method of Toronto Police – yell first, think about the situation later.
Because he yells at me, I stop and turn to face him. He remains with his back to the wall. I am now in front of the vehicle, cars rushing past behind me on Bay Street.
Why is the cop not doing something to regulate the traffic? What is the value of standing there and yelling at pedestrians? Why not caution drivers about blocking sidewalks?
I of course, yelled back at the cop. This is called “escalation”.
He yelled back at me.
I yelled back at him “Why don’t you do something about vehicles that block sidewalks”, and on the word “you” I pointed my finger at him.
“Don’t you point your finger at me” he yelled back.
I walked on, because his next ploy could well be not to point his finger at me, but to point his gun.
Cops are protected by their cars and by their guns. Pedestrians have only their wits and sense of survival.
I walked on, reasoning that I had been walking the streets of downtown Toronto for longer than the young cop had been walking on this earth.
One of the reasons I have survived so long on foot is Things My Mother Taught Me: Look Right, Look Left, Look Right Again. Of course in North America it is “Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again”, but I have adapted well.
The second “look left”, I learned through high school physics, is to allow the brain to judge the velocity, rather than the presence, of oncoming vehicles.
I am amazed at the number of pedestrians who stand at the intersection, staring at the lights, and begin to cross the instant the lights go “green/walk”, with nary a glance to see if any red-light runners are on the prowl.
They (pedestrians) seem to think that a red light can stop a car, when the truth is only the driver of a car can stop a car. (A saying of the Advanced Driver Training Instructors in Adelaide was “The only think a flashing turn indicator tells you is that the flashing turn indicator is functioning”).
My practice is to scan all four directions, and if no vehicles are within striking distance, to start crossing the street, in full and clear visibility, getting myself away from the danger of sharing space with vehicles as quickly as possible.