Thursday, March 13, 2008

Walking rights

Just a few weeks ago, my dad and I were together in the car snaking our way through Teacher's Village in Diliman. We were about to turn a corner just when a Fortuner made for the same road space, so my dad stopped to let the hulking thing pass before he took his left turn. I asked, "Did you just let him pass because he's a Fortuner?" And he nonchalantly replied, "No, because he had the right of way."

Not one to know any driving terms (because I'm not allowed to drive until I get a hearing aid), I asked him to explain it to me. "Right of way" is a driver's right to the road he's on, and anyone wanting to get in the road from another road has to let all those other guys on the target road to pass before they make any disruptions (i.e. get on the road or cross it). It's a first-come-first-serve policy version for the road, which makes a lot of sense.

What doesn't make sense is whether this right of way policy really truly absolutely (...even?) extends to pedestrians on pedestrian lanes. Look at the picture below: how's that for an example?
Image from

Why do you need to put a reminder for motorists to give way to pedestrians on the small slices of road alloted for them? I don't own a car, so I know how it feels to cross a road on a pedestrian lane: it's like that scene in The Lion King, with the stampede at the gorge. Minus the tree and Mufasa.

Of course, not all roads are that crazy. But, I've heard my mom say once that the difference between the Philippines and the US is that, in the US, step on Ped Xing territory and the cars slow down. Over at the Pearls of the Orient, they do the exact opposite.

I wonder what power the thrill of the road gives motorists. Have they just completely forgotten what it's like to cross a road whose pedestrian lane means absolutely nothing? Or are they all just in a hurry all the time?

True: crossing pedestrians slacken traffic. But, like all the makes and models of cars out there, a pair of road worn shoes still deserves its "right of way" on those white stripes. After all, the road doesn't only belong to those who have the cars.


sunnyday said...

Ah, the "right of way" concept =)

Most of the time, I do stop automatically upon coming to a pedestrian lane when people are crossing or about to cross -- even when the motorists behind me are honking like crazy. It's really a form of respect for the pedestrian, respect for the human being, respect for road signs (the ones that make sense, at least).

There's the other side, though. I hope one day we can say that pedestrians also come to recognize designated spots for crossing the street so that they won't cross just anywhere they feel like crossing. When you finally get your driver's license and get to drive around the city, you'll know how it feels when you have to contend with people who walk on the streets as if there were no pedestrian lanes and no sidewalks =)

petrufied said...

oh yeah i know about that...hehe. I think some pedestrians do that because hey are too lazy to walk over to the pedestrian lane or overpass. or they just don't know where to cross.

on my part, I don't cross when there is no lane (and sometimes the lane should have a stop light or a traffic person on it, or else it should be an overpass or underpass) mostly because i am deathly scared of getting run over. :S

In this way I think road rules (both for pedestrians and for motorists) should be followed. no one wants to be road kill as much as no one wants to be a--for lack of better term--"road killer"... :D