A Transportation Tangent

So, I don’t know if you’ve ever visited Kent State University, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s a university in Kent. Even though it sounds relatively dull (higher education: booooring), it actually attracts quite a lot of people. Tens, maybe dozens of people–maybe even thousands. And all those ten people or fifteen thousand people have to somehow commute to and around campus, so there’s a fair amount of traffic, especially at key points in the day.

One way to transport to and around campus is via a vehicle, such as an automobile (I go to college so I use proper terms, but I’ll henceforth use “car” so as to be more comprehensive to the average reader). I myself drive a car to campus, and it’s pretty great, except for the monumental cost of parking passes– you know, because they can’t give away parking passes for free, or even for a reasonable price, because the university isn’t made of money! (Oh wait…) So while the parking issue leaves a lot to be desired, the driving thing is cool– except for traffic.

So traffic is super annoying. In the first place, everyone is always buzzing around campus at 8am, noon, 3:30pm, 5pm… Like, why are you all here at these same times? I mean, I know I’m driving during those times, but why is everyone else? You know, we have parking passes, but we should have driving passes, too: you’re only allowed to drive around campus during whatever times permitted on your pass. THAT would cut down traffic way more than those lame roundabouts they’re shredding up the campus to insert (but that’s another topic). And as if me not being the only person on the road isn’t bad enough… What’s the deal with traffic lights? I mean, can’t a girl get a green arrow here and there? The way it is in Kent (it’s actually referred to as KSU’s Third Law) is that the only way you will ever be able to turn left on campus is after you’ve nosed your way out into the intersection and your light has proceeded to turn red. Because that’s the only scenario in which oncoming traffic will ever cease. And another thing is that people turn and accelerate as though their car will tip over if they exceed 5 mph. Either that, or they’re too busy texting or combing their hair or eating Chipotle or taking a shower or walking their dog or doing their makeup and don’t realize the light’s turned green, and I KNOW everyone in this city knows what green means. We’re at a university for Chrissakes; if you know the equation for determining  the rate of acceleration (a basic physics class lesson), then green is surely a rudimentary traffic concept and your rate of acceleration should be GO GO GO.

Possibly, above all else, the most annoying part of driving is the pedestrians. Oh, there are pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians are teeming around campus. They’re walking, they’re crossing the road, they’re walking through the parking lot, they’re jay-walking, they’re kay-walking, l-m-n-o-p-walking, they’re rolling over your car as you hit them… I mean, it’s ridiculous. And in the rare instance there’s a clearing for you to turn left, you can’t, because some jerk pedestrian is crossing the road all self-righteous because they have some lame “Walk” signal, as if that’s going to protect them from the wrath of my left turn. Who you think’s gonna come out in a better condition between you and my car, buddy? Yeah that’s right: I thought so.

So, driving’s all right. It has its downsides, but it’s all right.

Then, there’s the other option, and that’s walking.

Walking is nice because in my experience, campus has never been so congested that I can’t get somewhere without stopping because there are too many people crowded on the sidewalk– unlike the roads. So that’s cool. You also can’t get pulled over for walking (well… usually), you can’t get pulled over for speed-walking, you can’t get ticketed for running a stop-sign while walking, you can pass slow people who displease you pretty easily, and you can create your own shortcuts. I have an atlas of shortcuts around campus. I’m not kidding. Any sort of weather, any direction, and I can get from A to B. Knowing what buildings to cut through is wealthy information to have, and disregarding all sidewalks is also a key factor. Sidewalks are fine, but they really just slow me down. They’re all “Let me guide you where to go” and I’m all “Dismantle the establishment!” and so instead of taking some winding, beat-around-the-bush sidewalk, I hop the bush and do some trailblazing, which explains why I always carry my machete with me to class (plus it doubles as a butter knife for my morning on-the-go bagel).

Another great thing about walking is that you’ve got the right-of-way in any situation. I mean, I’m sure there are situations in which pedestrians are in the wrong-of-way, but pretty usually it’s the responsibility of the driver to see you and not your responsibility to see them. This leads to some pretty fun games of reckless Frogger. Some drivers are jerks and they see you standing there, but they keep blowing by. And the traffic won’t stop! It’s like, your lousy traffic business should not get in the way of my walking business. I’ve got a rhythm going, pal! My music’s playing in my ears, and I can’t walk to the beat if I’m standing at the corner of One Street and Some Other Street, pushing that button on the crosswalk pole that keeps telling me “Wait!– Wait!– Wait!–” as I push it once more just to make sure. Oh boy, it’s super annoying when cars see you and don’t let you cross the street, but that’s why you have to be assertive. Man, when that “Walk” sign flashes, I’m crossing that road like I’m Moses parting the Red Sea and all those cars can just go ahead and yield for me ’cause I’m going for it. My ass is standing out here in the rain, the snow, the heat, and I’m getting to my destination whether your insurance covers my medical bills or not. Now, I’m not from the city or anything–I’m actually from a town with one traffic light, but when I was younger I’d traipse all around that town, and got pretty comfortable staring down cars. The key is confidence. If I’ve got a crosswalk, they’ll stop. And if they don’t? Hit me, I dare you. Make my day; I could use the extra money.

So walking is pretty cool; aside from the crosswalk politics, it’s not bad.

Personally, I dabble in a little of both. I drive when it serves me better and I walk when it serves me better. In the end, it’s all about preference: you can either be a jerk driver or a jerk pedestrian.

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