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How to avoid getting run down by drivers

Sunday, February 15, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named flag.gifI love walking around Berkeley -- it's one of the reasons I moved here from Palo Alto. You can get around on foot instead of having to drive everywhere. But Berkeley drivers are not much better than anywhere else, it seems. Put a nice socially conscious person behind a steering wheel of a 2 ton hunk of metal and they forget everything they learned in Driver's Ed -- like what a crosswalk meansPermalink to this paragraph

A lot of them break the law, almost no one comes to a full stop when a pedestrian (one of those people without a 2 ton hunk of metal around them) is in a crosswalk, and a shocking number just don't want to slow down at all. Every time this happens I wonder how much it would hurt as the 2 tons of metal crushed my poor unprotected bod. There are some streets with so much fast-moving traffic that there's just no safe way to cross them. Permalink to this paragraph

However, I've learned that most drivers will slow down enough for you to cross if you hold your arm out with all five fingers extended, the universal symbol for STOP. And yesterday quite by accident I discovered another way, when even that doesn't work. It's been cold so I've been wearing gloves, but after an hour walking up and down the hills I have to take them off to let the heat out. Standing just off the curb in a crosswalk, I was holding the gloves as a sedan sped toward me, ignoring my outstretched hand. So I threw the gloves down in the street in his path with a grand gesture like a football referee throwing a penalty flag. He stopped! Not just a slow-down stop but a full wheels-not-turning stop. Amazing. I picked up the gloves and crossed the street. Permalink to this paragraph

The psychology of drivers. Stop to save a $10 pair of used gloves, but play a dangerous game of chicken with a human. Hey I'm a driver too, I know it's a whole other world, but the people walking across the street are just like you except they're even more fragile than a cheap old pair of gloves. Permalink to this paragraph

I think I've found the slution -- carry a real bright yellow penalty flag with me, and call every offense. Only $8 at Amazon. :-) Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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