© David John - Flickr: DavenJohn

 
 
 
 

Alexi Duggins asks: How can we stop pedestrians pissing us off?

Posted at 3:15 pm, August 25, 2014 in Fun London
Alexi Duggins © Rob Greig

Life in London: so many issues. Our inquisitive editor-at-large addresses the ones that nobody dares (or cares) to. This week: wanting to clobber other London walkers.

It’s Oxford Street. Oxford Street is the thing. You can set out with a heart that’s full of love and rainbows and unicorns. Ten minutes later you’re a ticking rage-bomb. You’re Nigel Farage in Brussels. You’re Jeremy Clarkson in Mexico. You’re Kanye in, well, Kanye’s life. Only it’s not just Oxford Street. It’s Soho. And Covent Garden. And Brick Lane. And basically any major thoroughfare when it’s busy. Kamikaze footpilots charge at you, heads bowed mid-SMS. Lobotomised pavement eejits edge along at a glacial bimble. And then they stop dead. And then you’ve got a rucksack rammed up your nostrils while some fuckwit London newbie gawps at a lamppost or marvels at the existence of Foot Locker. ‘What am I?’ you want to scream, ‘A HUMAN PINBALL?’

walkers - weaver blue

 

But be fair, pavement colleagues: who hasn’t ever texted while strolling? Or had to stop suddenly because they’ve dropped something or missed a turning or remembered that they forgot to Sky+ ‘The Great British Bake Off’? And, is it so bad to not want to hurtle along pavements like a clown fired from a cannon? Let’s not get too angry with our fellow walkers. You know what the real problem here is? It’s THE MAN, man.

Our city’s population is growing faster than ever before. According to the mayor’s new consultation document for his upcoming London Infrastructure Plan, we’re months away from 8.6 million people: the most citizens London’s ever had. And by 2050, expect that to be 11.3 million. That’s twice as many people on our streets than in the whole of Scotland.

According to the report, this means London’s transport system has ‘major infrastructure requirements’. Which is jargonese for ‘Ohshitohshitohshit WE’RE SCREWED!’ In the London of the future, it exclaims – for 89 pages – there will have to be more buses! More overground trains! More stations on the Underground! And as for ways to reduce rage-inducing crushes on pavements? One vague sentence about an ‘expansion of walking infrastructure’.

walkers - merciless red

 

Basically we’re on our own. So I’ve come up with a solution: pavement licences. There will be a test, naturally. You’re a clumsy, inconsiderate walker? Sorry, you’re barred from busy streets: dawdle elsewhere. If you’re the Usain Bolt of strolling, though? Unchecked sidewalk access! But only – and here’s the key – if you lead remedial classes so learner walkers can practise until they pass. You know: one foot in front of the other.

It’s a self-sustaining community of mutual walking improvement. Eventually the whole city will be seasoned strollers. We’ll all be happy and joyous and never, ever be tempted to clothesline fellow foot commuters. Granted, it ain’t going to work out so well for tourists. But every scheme has its Achilles heel. Anyway, they deserve it: that rucksack in the nostrils really hurt.

For another of Alexi’s comical ponderings have a read of: Where the hell are all London’s public toilets?

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