Friday, May 6, 2011

Walking: It's Really Not That Hard

Walking.  It's something most of us have done since we were knee-high to a grasshopper.  I love that phrase, "knee-high to a grasshopper," especially since I got tagged with the nickname "Grasshopper" way back in '92.  But I digress.

Walking is the most fundamental of methods of locomotion for most of us homo sapiens.  All over the world, in all sorts of weather, people walk.  Some people walk long distances, others only a short way, but the vast majority of human beings on this planet walk.  It is with that in mind that I make the following declaration:

Bangkokians do not know how to walk.

Sure, folks in Bangkok know how to move by placing one foot in front of the other, first the left and then the right, in a repeated pattern.  What they don't know how to do is walk in an effective, efficient pattern that allows everyone to get where they need to go in a timely manner.

This is something that's been bugging me for awhile, but exacerbated last month as I stayed after work to play basketball in the Embassy's annual tournament and commuted home using the train and commuter vans rather than the normal shuttle vans that run between our place and the Embassy.  Part of that commute involves walking on the elevated walkway around Victory Monument.

Here are a few clues that you might need to be a little more aware of how your walking is affecting the ability of those around you to get to their desired location.
  • If very few people are passing you going in the same direction, you're slow.
  • If nobody is passing you going the same direction, and there's significant space between you and the next person in front of you, you are slow and you're blocking the walkway.  Probably with the three friends you are with, none of whom are even slightly cognizant of the fact that you are all blocking the walkway.
  • If you are constantly being bumped by people walking the opposite direction as you, you're too far in the middle.  Move right.  Or left.  Pick a side.  Just get out of the middle.
  • You've all seen street vendors spread their wares on a blanket along the side of the walkway.  You don't have to stop and look over the shoulder of the other 35 people huddled around that vendor.  Besides, they're counterfeit goods.
While we're on the subject, could everyone just decide which side of the walkway to move, please.  I know street traffic here moves on the left-hand side.  But sidewalk traffic is like Thunderdome; every man, woman, and child for his/her/itself.  Slow walkers stay to the outside and let those of us who want to move faster than 3 kilometers an hour move along the inside.  Thanks.

I really shouldn't complain all that much.  The elevated walkways are literally express lanes compared to the walkways along streets like Sukhumvit, Phetchaburi, and Silom, where the street vendors occupy fully three-quarters of the sidewalk with their stalls.  Maybe I'll stop complaining now...

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