I walk a lot. Often, when I’m about to cross a street or a driveway and a car is turning that way, the driver will stop and wait for me to get across. It is a nice gesture. Or a simple realization that, were there to be a conflict, the car would win.
Often, though, I stop and wave the driver through. I’m not blocking traffic. It is the driver, not me, who, by kindly waiting for me to cross, runs the risk of being rear-ended.
At least that’s what I used to think.
While walking downtown the other day, I stopped and gestured to the driver of a pickup truck turning into a parking lot that he should not wait for me and should go ahead. He smiled, waved and did exactly that. And just as I started walking again, I sensed and then heard one of those new electric scooters we see so many of, as the rider swerved to avoid both me and the truck.
It was very quick, very smooth. Just a momentary flash of panic on my part.
Even if I had not stopped to let the truck through I would have been vulnerable to the scooter. Either way, it would come down to the alertness and skill of the scooter operator. Who, at least in this case, was clearly up to the task, even though my decision to stop and start made his navigational calculations just that much more complicated.
And, despite the fact that they are new and therefore somewhat scary, the scooters aren’t that much different, or more dangerous, than the bicycles I have encountered — and, once upon a time, ridden — on downtown sidewalks.
Yes, we all know that bikes, scooters, motorized skateboards, hoverboards, whatever, should not be on the sidewalk. They should be in the street, with other vehicles, motorized and not. But, when you are really out there, you do the math.
A bike, scooter or other lightweight conveyance poses a danger to pedestrians, no doubt. But if they venture into the street, the danger posed to bikes and scooters by autos and trucks is even more significant than that created on the sidewalk. A scooter might knock over a pedestrian. A car is likely to kill the rider of a scooter. Thus, law or no law, the scooters wind up on the sidewalk.
Bike lanes are, of course, a reasonable compromise between sidewalk and street. But, again, the conflict points found in most bike lanes put the bike and scooter riders at a significant disadvantage. Tempting them to, again, retreat to the sidewalks.
There is no easy answer to this. No law that will be obeyed, or even make sense, in all cases. And not being able to handle this new traffic configuration certainly bodes ill for our yet-to-be-fulfilled future of flying cars.
Just be careful out there.
• • •
News of any news outlet shrinking or shutting down is sad and, to some of us, a little frightening. Sort of like seeing one of the other airplanes in your formation get shot down, even if you, today, landed safely.
The passing of The Telegram — the online news outlet launched by student journalists at Herriman High School when the administration wrongly shut down their official school website — is less of a tragedy and more of a simple coming of age. As the students who ran the website recently noted on their Twitter account, most of them are off to college now and it is time to let that enterprise go.
As we said at the time, educators who think they are educating student journalists to sit down and shut up in the face of official stonewalling are not teaching journalism, any more than a teacher who says 2+2=7 is teaching math.
They have left the website active. They say for historical reasons. Maybe in case their successors need to reforge the sword.
Good luck, folks. Make your colleges give you AP credit for journalism.
George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Tribune, never did anything remarkable enough to get censored by his high school or college. Though the dean of students did call him in once for a short talking-to. email@example.com