Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sidewalk Merging

Maryland has a huge campus. We argue that we have the biggest quad in the country. UVA will claim that they have the biggest, but actually ours is better by 3 inches on each corner. The biggest problem with its size is that the campus itself isn't car or bike friendly so you have to walk everywhere most of the time. 35,000 of us have to walk everywhere most of the time -- and that's just students, not faculty/staff/parents/tours/conferences or other nonsense.

You can imagine why I have to do a lot of sidewalk merging. It's a lot like driving a car, only you're walking on the sidewalk but the principle is the same.

Like my lead foot behind the wheel, I'm a fast walker. I have long legs and I bounce when I walk (so I've been told) and that seems to propel me forward a bit. I wouldn't call myself an aggressive driver, but my commute certainly has made me a very frustrated one. By osmosis my frustration seeps into my walking ability as well.

I have to weave in and out of the slow walkers, avoid people who are texting because they're not watching where they're going and slow down when there's a jam -- usually at some steps. Most of all, I rock out to my ipod when I walk, just like I rock out to my car radio. I do manage to refrain from singing out loud though.

There are even exit ramps in sidewalk merging. The sidewalk will split off to another direction and a line of students will follow that way, and a line of students will continue to be in my way in front of me. It's not until I get to my local pathway that traffic calms down and I can relax a bit.

I notice this the most when I have to walk from my Politics of China class, which is in a building on the campus' mall, to my Human Sexuality class in the Public Health Building over by the campus gym. The walk takes a total of 12-30 minutes depending on foot and automotive traffic. It's during the campus rush hour too -- 11 am.

I would just get a bike, but that would be like driving a RV on a crowded school day.

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