Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

Keeping the feet moving, Part III - safety first!

An argument could be made that the first rule of life, in general, is "don't get dead." It's an important part of walking for exercise, and I take that responsibility seriously. The last four and a half weeks have shown me that I take it more seriously than some other residents of this community. After yesterday's five mile excursion, I've got enough examples for a post.

Fashion Statement
I often like to walk at night, after dinner but before the sun goes down and insects come out to play. It's cooler, and I don't have to go through the ritual of applying sunscreen to every exposed skin surface. I often wear the shirt that I'd had on the previous day, but if I expect it to be dark or nearly so as I'm making my way back, I limit my color choices to yellow, white, and light gray. Even if I'm on the sidewalk, I have to stay visible to passing cars. It amazes me each and every time I see a jogger or walker, often in the road, wearing a black top and/or shorts after 7:30 p.m. I don't anticipate going the extra mile and buying a reflective shirt or vest, mainly because the post-dinner walks will fall by the wayside as we move into autumn, what with the colder temperatures and earlier sunsets.

Don't Go There. Just, Don't.
There are two stretches of asphalt that I have simply deemed insufficiently safe to be included in any course I devise. One is a stretch of Ocean Avenue that has no sidewalks and narrow shoulders (although there is a wide strip of grass along one side). I learned from actually walking along this road that I was too close to the cars for my comfort. In the second case, I knew from the start that I wouldn't go anywhere near it: Eaton's Neck Road near the entrance to the power plant. Downhill, blind curves at both ends, and no shoulder whatsoever on either side. I've listened to my father complain on multiple occasions about pedestrians and cyclists using this road. They have the right to do so, of course, but it's too risky for me. Why do they persist? I have two thoughts. One, because of what I just said about them having the right to do so, and thus feeling fully entitled to do so. Second, it's right around the 3.5 mile mark of The Great Cow Harbor 10-Kilometer Run, and I suspect some people think they just have to train on the actual course, so they'll have a feel for it on race day. At no time is this worse than on the six Wednesday evenings preceding the race in August and early September, when the Northport Running Club conducts training runs, and runners of varying speeds take over those roads; my experience has been that not everyone adheres to the detailed and thorough safety guidelines the Club lays out.

You DO Talk About The Rules of the Road
The subject of driving etiquette and courtesy, including people who ignore clearly posted signs due to inconvenience, is the subject for another post entirely. But there are some things on the sidewalks that have irked me. Before I continue, let me say that I'm clearly aware that I'm veering into the same territory as I did two months ago when I went off on language and grammar. When it's just a matter of passing someone else who's walking or jogging, you kind of play it by ear. Sometimes I yield because I'm slower; sometimes I yield because I have a clear view of oncoming traffic; sometimes I yield because I don't need the entire width of the sidewalk to push a stroller and it's easiest for me to yield. You do what you need to do, and you continue on.

But from time to time, an instance arises when someone employing a means of transport other than his or her own two feet encroaches on the sidewalk. Having done a lot of cycling myself many years ago, I am fully aware that the proper place for the two-wheeled vehicles is the road itself. I do not step out of the way when a cyclist approaches me on the gray ribbon of concrete. I was disinclined to do so even for three teenagers walking their bikes there (although I ultimately did).

Yesterday, an even worse offense presented itself. At this time, I'd like to direct my remarks to the owner of one of the nice houses on the road out of my neighborhood. Congratulations on being able to afford that house on top of the hill, and on not having to deign to mow your large lawn yourself. That said, you have a long driveway which appears to have enough room for the mowers' truck to park without impeding movement of your own cars. Why, then, is it necessary for said mowers' truck to park directly in front of your house, completely blocking off the sidewalk and forcing southbound traffic into the other lane? If you didn't direct your mowers to park there, you should have a little more consideration for other road users and have them park at the top of your hill - especially since the landscape upkeep occurs on a regular basis.

I only took a brief stroll today, because the temperature here topped out at 90 °F and there was an air quality alert in place. Back to the five-plus mile walks tomorrow. Total distance covered for August: 100.64 miles. I'm down another pound to 200 as of three days ago; I'll take another measurement tomorrow morning to set a baseline for September. And thanks to the recent discovery that I actually stand 5' 8¾", the BMI is a bit lower than I'd thought. Even so, that doesn't alter my short term goal of shedding another three or four pounds over the next three weeks.

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