The thrill of Walking

Over the past three weeks I’ve been walking quite a lot, a lot more than what I usually do. I realized walking in Madras is a lot harder than it seems. The streets are open to all, everyone jostles for their inch of space, the car, the motorcyclist, the autos and the busses. The amount of space each of these constituents gets is related to how much weight they can throw round, and how aggressive the driver is. A non-aggressive driver is likely to be left behind or spending more time looking at the rear view mirror looking at who is overtaking them. Its even worse in crossroads which don’t have a signal, a non-aggressive driver will struggle to cross the signal, perennially waiting for others to wait.

In this chaos, a pedestrian also has to fight for their two feet of space. Its hardest for the pedestrians because they have the least weight to throw around, especially while confronted by the autos and motorcyclists. These two classes of vehicles are those who often fight with pedestrians for space because they often use the extreme left of the roads, where pedestrians usually walk.

The pedestrians have to fight for space with the autos and motorcycles, which means the average pedestrian on the roads is in no position to fight for space. While walking I’ve realized that the requirements to fight for space usually are that the person walking should be induce fear in the motorcyclist that a collision would leave the motorcyclist worse off than the pedestrian. How? Simple, if the person is big and tall, then a collision would throw the average 100cc biker off balance and send them crashing down. Without a helmet and the narrow 2inch pavements, if the biker lands on the pavement side, it usually would mean a serious injury. This means that the bikers usually brake and go around such a pedestrian. The same is the case with auto guys too, if they believe that the pedestrian does not mind them crashing into them, and the damage would be for the auto guy, then they usually stop in front of the pedestrian. It happened to me, an auto guy, in a narrow lane, expected me to give way, but while walking, I refused to move, and he braked at the last minute, hoping that I would give way. Realizing I wouldn’t he had to stop and go around me.

Since not everyone will be big enough to challenge the autos and motorcyclists, walking in Madras, especially during peak hour traffic continues to be a headache for most people. For me? I’ve started enjoying walking as much as riding my bullet and tormenting those poor souls on the roads. The thrill of challenging motorcyclists and autos is immense, its like challenging cars on the road to make way for a bullet.

4 Comments so far

  1. Arun (unregistered) on July 4th, 2007 @ 10:54 am

    One should walk on the right side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic.

  2. tsk tsk (unregistered) on July 4th, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

    Chennai probably has one of the most terribly designed footpaths in the history of mankind, (the beach promenades are a saving grace) they may have raw granite stone and all that.. but they are

    -too high,
    -too narrow
    -way too discontinuous
    -just filled with too many obstacles

    walking on them is like running a hurdles race or something. requires good knees and sharp planning

  3. Auto Shankar (unregistered) on July 5th, 2007 @ 7:06 am

    Dei kasmaalam.. nee dhana adhu? Ootla soltu vantya? Adtha dabba enga pathalum, sangu than da unakku!

  4. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on July 5th, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

    A pedestrian is almost never going to come off worse in a collision with a motorbike.

    And it is obvious from the way that many two-wheelers are driven in Chennai (and the absence of helmets or protective clothing) that danger is the last thing on their mind.

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