Walk Smart. Walk S-Mart

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is a laudable goal and I'm glad that the powers that be continue to invest time and resources in promoting these things, even if their educational campaigns rely on imagery that seems to reinforce the dangers of active transportation and sometimes present false equivalencies when no such equivalencies exist. It's easy and fun to quibble with these things, but I shouldn't and so I won't. At least not in this blog post. I'll allow that quibbling to be done by people smarter and sharper than I am and instead I'll just talk about "street smarts" and what those words evoke and how what those words evoke isn't the message "don't kill someone with your car." In fact, if you wanted the message to be "don't kill someone with your car," I would recommend going with "don't kill someone with your car" as your primary slogan But I'm not a Mad Men, so what do I know.

"Street smarts" are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a certain kind of savvy. A recognition that the world around you is a tricky place where malcontents might bamboozle you and/or give you candy to lure you into their car to kidnap you. Having street smarts is to be shrewd. It's to avoid hazard. It's to suss out the true nature of things (things are bad) and to put yourself in a position where you aren't duped by them. Often times, he and she with street smarts steer clear (transparent cows?) of danger altogether. People with street smarts are clever. Street smarts aren't for the powerful. They're what allow the powerless to circumvent problems. People with street smarts don't get fooled again because they don't get fooled the first time. You can be street smart and you can be streetwise and you can be attuned and aware and you have your wits about you and you get that not everyone is looking out for your best interest because the world isn't like that. That's street smart.

But, what I ask, does any of this have to do with crossing the road?

You shouldn't have to be clever to cross the street. That's not a con or a dupe that you should be looking to avoid. In fact, you can't avoid it. Sometimes there's a street between where you are and where you need to be. Yes, the world is a tricky place, but why put the onus solely on those of us who walk or bike through it to deal with that? Navigating our city streets on foot or on a bike shouldn't be a test of wits against an unforgiving world. If there's a genuine safety problem, we should address the causes of the safety problem! And the causes of the pedestrian and cyclist safety problem in DC (and elsewhere probably) isn't a lack of cleverness by pedestrians and cyclists. It's that cars that are too big and being piloted too quickly and too recklessly in conditions that aren't meant to handle them by others in a society that has grown too callous to the fact that it's too acceptable to injure or kill its citizens by those means. That's the elephant in the room. But then again, if there's an actual elephant in the room, you should just be "room smart" about it and I'm sure no danger will come of it. 

But on the other hand, this biker once almost hit me when I was walking on the sidewalk, so...

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