Friday, January 22, 2010

Defensive Walking 101

Over the past few months I have been trying to walk on a more regular basis. Dr. Oz and my own doctor recommend some type of exercise each day and since I have my 35th High School reunion fast approaching and since the recent results of my blood cholesterol were disappointing I have made a commitment to walk for a minimum of thirty minutes each day. This should be doable - no fancy gym clothes needed, no need to drive to the gym, no excuses - just open the front door, pedometer in place and walk.

I have been walking for over 50 years so how difficult could this daily walking routine be? Making sure that my sneakers are tied tightly so I don't trip I set out. There are no sidewalks in my community, no traffic lights ~ just plain paved road. I follow the rules of walking, always walking on the left side of the road so the oncoming traffic can easily see me. I would be hard to miss. I am often pushing my grandsons in their stroller. An orange stroller. A double wide orange stroller carrying my twin grandsons. I start out pushing the boys down our country road when a gray Honda approaches. I expect that the driver is going to slow down and veer around me out of common courtesy. That's what I do when I see a pedestrian,horseback rider, or bike rider - I show courtesy and respect their space on the road. The driver of the Honda made no attempt to slow down or to veer away from me. As a matter of fact, she appeared to be almost playing a game of chicken with me. I pushed the stroller into the grass and raised my fist at the driver of the car. I stomped my sneaker on the pavement in anger. The health benefits of walking seemed to be diminishing.

I have continued walking and could write forever about the near misses I have had with vehicles who speed by me coming dangerously close. I shake my fist, I yell at them to slow down. I now wear brighter clothing and make sure my invisibility cloak is removed before I start my walk.
I refuse to hang up my sneakers so I have developed a few defensive strategies to protect me when I hit the road.

1. I have a walking stick which I often carry. When a car approaches I put the stick on my hip so that if the car gets too close they could lose some paint off of the side. Back away from the stick. I am considering putting a nail on the end of the stick so that it will guarantee a scratch on the car.

2. I have wondered what happens to a car's paint if I spray it with mace? Or Silly String? How silly would that be?

3. I frequently carry my camera with me when I walk so I can capture the perfect sunset but I also can capture license plate numbers. I just aim my camera at their car and snap ! Might just start a blog listing dangerous drivers.


Of course, I probably wouldn't really practice any of these defensive moves BUT I certainly have been tempted on way too many occasions. What I would really like is for all people just to be courteous as drivers, as walkers, as humans...and to share the road with this middle aged grammie who is walking to stay healthy.

17 comments:

The Muse said...

i second all those ("proposals") ha ha...
thankfully, the farm here is full of trails, and my ventures to the main road are few and far between...
but just meandering down to the mailbox can be a death defying feat...

with your camera in hand...make sure you get license plate shots of any renegade diver :)

Natalie said...

Go get 'em Deb! Get the nail!xx♥

Lauren said...

I have the same problem running Debbie! Charlie even bought me a Bright, and I mean Bright, yellow reflective jacket for when I go running. I have had to step far off onto the shoulder before, and sometimes into the snow to avoid getting hit. I can't even imagine how scary it would be to have 2 babies in front of you to worry about as well as yourself. I really like the stick with a nail on the end idea. I might have to try that. Good luck!

Brian Miller said...

a little common decency would be nice. drivers scare me sometimes with the games they play.

Maggie May said...

I really feel for you. You have no choice if there are no pavements. I cannot understand the mind of some motorists and it appears that you have to take your life in your hands at times if you want to walk.

I once was pushing my daughter on a zebra crossing and suddenly a van swooshed past the push chair by inches shaking me up. I memorised the van's reg number and later called the Police.
They told me that unless I was going to prosecute then they couldn't do anything.

Nuts in May

Kim Mailhot said...

Arrrgh !

You should just keep walking and trying to put the word out there to remind drivers that pedestrians have the right of way - every where !

So many "ARRRghs" in this world...
Keep on walking, lovely Deb !

Jeni said...

Like you, with no sidewalks here where I live, any walking to be done must be done on the road. I have the dog on a leash and he isn't all that well-trained as yet in the "art" of walking like that. He loves to run and pull me, jerk me along at times too. But my biggest fear with him is that I won't get his leash pulled back quickly enough or far enough to be able to keep him completely by my side when the cars come by and that he will jerk or strain at the leash and it will pop and he'll then end up smashed up on the street. Mandy and I try now and again when the weather isn't too cold to take the kids along as we walk the dog (and Grammy gets a smattering of exercise in then too). So far, we've not had any big problems with the vehicles but because one doesn't always know what kind of driver is behind the wheel of any vehicle, it is still with a lot of thought about being safety conscious as much as possible while walking. I like your idea of the walking stick and the sharp nail -yes, I do entertain not-so-nice thoughts of things like that too. But the photographing the license plates -now that one really does appeal to me! Gotta go -a war between the grandkids just erupted here in the living room, breaking my nice little train of thought, ya know. Peace -and safe walking too!

TSannie said...

All I can say is exercise is HIGHLY overrated! And that nail? Excellent idea!

MyMaracas said...

It is frustrating when motorists are so thoughtless. I like the nail idea.
;-)

Willow said...

I agree! Drivers who play chicken with BABY STROLLERS should have their licenses taken away!

When we walked the various relay races in Oregon, we sometimes would be literally forced off the roads by annoyed drivers. I am particularly enamored of the walked stick with nail on the end strategy...

When we bike, The Professor always stays a little on the inside of me because he's much larger than I am and has a much scarier glare to give stoopit drivers.

imbeingheldhostage said...

I like the nail idea! Maybe you could get a light-weight sign to hang off the back of your shirt "slow down!". It's law here that you slow waaaaay down for horses, but it's ok if you scare a bicyclist or mother pushing a stroller to death. I drive my kids to the bus stop because I've seen people drive like maniacs on our road. Better safe than sorry.
Stay safe :-)

Daryl said...

I LOVE the stick with a nail idea ... I do .. I would .. damn ...

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Pretty scary! I don't recommend scraping them with your stick. There are some true crazies on the road. But I don't know what the answer is either. Sad.

R.J. said...

I prefer walking at a local park that has a track, or the local high school track, or the YMCA (which has senior rates), or the shopping mall. I can also choose to walk on the treadmill in my basement or on the street in my neighborhood. Fortunately, with so many choices, I don't have to walk on the narrow highways in my area. After driving to work so many years on narrow roads with traffic going both ways, I can see the view of the folks behind the wheel of a car. I used to get stuck behind a line of bicycles or runners and they backed up many cars that had to creep along behind them for miles since there was a lot of traffic and no place to pass them. I am not in favor of walkers or bikers trying to share the highways--sorry.

pink dogwood said...

Stick with the nail is the way to go :)

The Muse said...

hope you are well :)

The Muse said...

Lovely addition to the game..glad you are in fine spirits!

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