Watch Your Step

MUCH has been written and more has been said about the duty and responsibility of the automobile driver, and no doubt there still exists urgent need for continuance of this propaganda for years to come. But into this concert of condemnation of drivers in general I should like to introduce a little roundelay, the theme of which is the duty and responsibility of the pedestrian! And I am certain that, given the note, every autoist will join me feelingly in the chorus.

I have driven a car for years cautiously and — I think I may say modestly — well; and in those years the number of people who have seemed determined to commit suicide beneath my wheels has increased alarmingly. Now I cannot say that I love my fellow man indiscriminately, but I wholesomely respect his right to life, limb, and pursuit of happiness. So I have resignedly dodged these would-be suicides with a glow of satisfaction at my dexterity and a sigh for their frustrated hopes.

However, with the speeding up through the years of the pace of traffic and the increase of numbers of vehicles on the road, the time has arrived when the driver of a car can no longer be the genial guardian of the entire public; and, though he may earnestly desire to turn out for the careless pedestrian, city traffic has so arranged it that there is no direction in which he can turn save one from which the force of gravity restrains him. Nevertheless, the good citizen who sees a pedestrian in a place where he has no right to be or reason for being will always make the attempt to avoid him, even though he jeopardizes his own life and limb in so doing.

And here is the burden of my song. If the pedestrian sets no value on his own life, it is nevertheless his duty and responsibility to allow the man behind the wheel to get home safely.

The woman with the baby carriage who seems to think she has exclusive first rights on all city streets; the saucy flapper who saunters out on a crossing just as a super-snappy traffic officer has told the motorist to ‘Go ahead and STEP ON IT’; the youth who leaps across a street between blocks; the nervous lady that flutters out from nowhere to catch a trolley or bus that has just started; the demented scores of people who run around trolley cars during late afternoon rush hours — all of these owe their lives to the forbearance and alertness of the motorist who daily risks his life and bank account to save them.

The sidewalk belongs exclusively to the pedestrian, and is it too much to ask that, before he launches himself from his exclusive domain into the territory which he knows he must share with the automobile, he take one little look before he leaps? Countless lives and innumerable dollars would thus be saved and the sanity of many drivers be spared.