Commentary

Eight Rules of the Road for Being a Polite Pedestrian

We’ve recently covered the rules for being a better biker and not driving like a douchebag. But what about pedestrians? After all, wacky walkers can be traffic hazards, too, committing violations — of either legal regulations, common sense, or both — every day. So here are our eight rules of the road for polite pedestrians:
8. Don’t jaywalk
Jaywalking laws directly address pedestrians, even though it's been some time since Denver vigorously enforced the rules — like the 1950s, when chewing gum could get you detention, and the World Wide Web would have been a horror flick about a giant planet-eating spider. But the fact is: You're not supposed to cross in the middle of the street. And even if a cop doesn't ticket you, there's another deterrent: Knowing that if you get hit and killed, it’ll be your own dumbass fault.

7. Be careful crossing the street anywhere
Even if you’re at the crosswalk, there’s a walk signal, and you have plenty of time to get across the street — proceed with caution.  Look both ways, even if you’re not a kid anymore. This is especially important during the winter months, or anytime inclement weather causes adverse road conditions. You might have the right of way, but like my grandma used to say: You can be totally in the right, and still be just as dead.

6. Use the sidewalks
Bikes aren’t supposed to use them (with minimal exceptions), cars can only cross them while entering a marked parking lot or alley, and many jurisdictions even keep skateboarders and the like off sidewalks. And it's all for your better walking experience, pedestrians. So don’t look a gift horse in the mouth: Use the sidewalks. Appreciate them. They’re a privilege that you probably take for granted.

5. Walk against traffic
Unlike the rules for bicycles, the general advice for pedestrians is that they walk against the direction of traffic when there’s no sidewalk — and some experts say that even if you have sidewalks on both sides of the street, stick to walking against traffic. If you can see what’s coming, you can better avoid it — and when it comes to dodging vehicles, people on foot still have the superior maneuverability. If you see what’s coming, you can take advantage of that fact — which is sometimes the difference between a close call and a trip to the hospital.

Keep reading for four more rules for pedestrians.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen

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