I’ve been working in downtown Seattle for a year now, but I continue to be struck by how bad Seattle pedestrians are. They dutifully wait for the “walk” light to change to green before crossing even one-way streets that are free of traffic. Conversely, they’ll often follow, blindly and cow-like, when a more independently-minded soul decides to take a traffic-free moment to cross the street against the light.
Finally, there’s the sidewalk herding and milling about. I can walk almost anywhere in Manhattan, as quickly as I like, on sidewalks narrower and more crowded than here in Seattle. People get with the program – sidewalks are for walking, and if someone needs to make a phone call, talk to a friend, or wolf down a hotdog, they’ll stand off to the side. Here in the Northwest? People will stop abruptly mid-sidewalk and stare doe-eyed into space. They’ll talk, yell, spin around, windowshop and wait for buses, all where god intended that city people in a hurry should have an unimpeded place to walk. Perhaps instead of banning grocery bags and Styrofoam takeout containers, our city fathers’ energies could be better spent on educating our clueless pedestrians on how to properly use the public byways.