If you drive a car or other vehicle, you’re expected to obey the rules of the road. If you’re in the UK and not sure what they are, then re-read The Highway Code and refresh the memory of all the bits you forgot the second you tore up your L plates.
I was talking with my friend Kev the other day, and I was moaning (yes, I know) that the pavements around here are quite narrow except on the High Street. Even here there are places where things get a bit tight; outside Pelly’s Solicitors for one. There’s an impressive flight of steps from the front door onto the pavement, flanked by some cast-iron railings that mysteriously didn’t get taken and melted down during WWII.
It was at this very pinchpoint that three yummymummies, one with two dogs, decided to stop and have a natter. So engrossed were they, they paid me no heed, and I was forced to drop off the kerb into the road. This displeased me, and I told Kev so in no uncertain terms. Hence we came up with the splendid idea of pedestrians obeying the rules of the pavement.
First things first. As with roads, pavements should have an overtaking lane. You can then leg it past somebody on a mobility scooter because they’re in the inside lane. This idea also means that if you’re trying to get a move on, you’re less likely to be in a collision with somebody veering without due care and attention to look in the window of a charity shop, since they’ll be in the inside lane too. They might get run over by the mobility scooter, but that’s life.
We also toyed with the idea of dogs only being allowed on the kerb side of the pavement, so there be fewer things for them to sniff, and they’d be less likely to stop dead and make you trip over the lead, but that’s incompatible with the overtaking lane, so we shelved it.
Then we came up with a brainwave. As with roads, the two directions should be separated, so everybody on one pavement goes the opposite way to the people on the other pavement. I did point out that might make it a bit tricky to go to a destination on the other side of the road, but Kev was adamant. ‘Naah. You just have to go down to the roundabout* and come back.’
Spurred by the incident that spurred the conversation, we hit on the idea of talking bays. You have parking bays, so why not talking bays where you can stop out of the way. 30 Minutes. No return within two hours.’ sort of thing.
We wondered about compulsory mirrors and signals, but these have failed to catch on the road. We’d need to trial it.
By the way, if you think lanes on pavements are a dream, in some countries in the Far East they have texting lanes, where you can wander about to your heart’s content with your nose in the screen without causing people trying to get past at a reasonable pace to have a stroke.
*I’m aware that reference might be lost on some of readers in the US, some of whom don’t seem to get them as an idea.