So there you stand. The Gatekeeper. Tasked with defending the great bastion of Motordom and upholding a last-century codex about city planning and engineering. Your job is important. Keeping the streets clear of irritating, squishy obstacles so that Motordom’s armada can continue flowing freely. Don’t worry about Ignoring the Bull. You ARE the bull and don’t you forget it.
What tools are at your disposal? What are the most effective ways to reverse 7000 years of city life and keep pedestrians out of the way, under control, under your greasy thumb, Gatekeeper? We’ve compiled a list for you.
Adopt one or more of the following ideas in your city and declare proudly to the world that you are:
A: Completely unwilling to take traffic safety seriously
B: Ignorant of the existing Best Practice regarding traffic calming and lowering speed limits
C: A slave to an archaic, last century mentality
D. Immune to the death and injury of millions
1. The Beg Button
It’s important that pedestrians don’t think they own the place. Nevermind the fact that for 7000 years, they actually did. With a simple installation, you can force these rogues of the urban landscape to apply for permission to cross a street. You can control them. Make them feel insignificant. Have fun with it, too. Install a speaker with a scolding, authoritative voice that speaks to them like they are children. Configure the system to rotate randomly through waiting times. On two-stage crossings, have a field day. Make them wait as long as you like in the middle — boxed in like the untamed animals they are.
You don’t even have to connect them to the light system and make them work. That’s how easy it is.
Anything else is un-American. Those Euro-trash types didn’t get THIS memo and look at where THEY’RE at. The concept of jaywalking is as American as apple pie, shooting beer cans in the desert and super-sized meals. It was a gift to America from the automobile industry, so you know it must be good.
Enforce it. A 7000 year old habit in cities CAN be eradicated if you really want it bad enough. Your cops will feel empowered and get valuable training for dealing with terrorists later. Back in the day, we used Boy Scouts to chastise jaywalkers. Now we get to do it with heavily-armed law enforcement officers. Don’t be shy about a little collateral damage. It’s for the common good.
The day we let pedestrians walk wherever they want is the day the terrorists have won.
3. Pedestrian Flags
“ Because we pride ourselves in being a walkable and bikeable community, we need our citizens to feel safe on our roads and sidewalks, and pedestrian safety is of utmost importance. “
Thus sayeth Mayor John Woods of Davidson, North Carolina. Print out a photo of him and others like him and make an altar in your engineering department. He understands. That’s not him the photo. The lady on the left is Mayor of some other visionary town.
Install pedestrian flags at crosswalks — or Pedestrian Control Zones, as we like to call them — and force pedestrians to wave one high above their head in the hope that the fine, motoring citizens might notice. Send a clear message to them about their parasitical status in the transport hierarchy by making them feel so completely helpless and stupid all at once. Added value: It’s hilarious to drive past a flag-waving pedestrian.
Do NOT refer to the Euro-trash-esque Berkeley types when they conclude “The use of the flags did not seem to have a significant effect on driver behaviour”. Pedestrianism is socialism sneaking in the back door. Refer instead to other visionary communities who share your views.
4. Criminalize Walking
With simple legislation your community, too, can clamp down on humans moving unaided by fossil fuels through your paradisaical motorised world. Give it a name… how about “distracted walking”? Follow the lead of this New Jersey town and ban texting while walking and reduce exponentially the irritating dents caused by human bones striking the smooth, elegant paint jobs of your citizens’ cars. If only we had thought of this back when people walked around reading newspapers in cities. Damn.
At the same time, you can go all Spanish on your population’s asses and ban Drunk Walking. Laugh in the face of those who suggest restricting cars or lowering speed limits in densely-populated nightlife districts and keep your police force fresh and battle-ready by enforcing this sensible law.
The Province of Ontario, in Canada, proposed a Heads Up, Phone Down bill in late 2017 — eager to get on the pedestrian hater express, apparently. We thought it helpful to design their next campaign…
5. Tell ’Em What to Wear
These pedestrian types obviously need a lot of help so dictating their clothing is a no-brainer. Start condescending campaigns to ridicule them for not wearing brightly-coloured clothing and reflective vests, et al. Whatever you do, don’t get any smart-ass ideas about doing the same for cars. You are The GATEKEEPER, for christ’s sake.
Don’t worry, you have “walking experts” on your side, pilgrim. “Be safe — be seen. It’s only your life that depends on it. Night walking means taking extra care that cars can see you. For the best safety, your entire outline should be reflective and you should carry a light or wear a flasher.”
Not to mention the Center for Disease Control. They have awesome parking facilities, by the way.
6. Lull Them With Distraction
Orwell, Shmorwell. Aldous Huxley understood our Brave New World. Want to control and distract people? Give them mindless entertainment distration. Distrantrainment. Enterstraction. Oh, whatever. Just control them. Big Auto will thank you. Your city engineers won’t have to waste time worrying about safety and have more time to do important work.
Gameify it. Let these bums play Pong while they wait. Whatever keeps them out of the way of cars is a GOOD thing.
Make it even simpler. These people are morons, anyway. Just have a funny — like haha funny — dancing green man on the pedestrian signal. It’s seriously that easy. The good people at Smart Car get it. They get it real good.
7. Instill Fear
Fear is your surest, sharpest weapon, Gatekeeper. Those pinko Berliners have their cutesy man in a hat, but protecting the bastion of Motordom requires vision and dedication. Get those pedestrians out of your way by scaring them.
Make them run. For their lives.
“Watch out!”, it reads in Danish. Yeah. You could trip on the sticker. That’ll teach them. Sheesh, even the DANES get this.
It works so well. Good old fashioned ridicule. The automobile industry knew this and that is how we got to where we are today, thank goodness. They excelled at using ridicule to get pedestrians in line.
The City of Bogota knows it, too. They put mimes in traffic to treat pedestrians as unruly sheep — and they even sugar-coat it with “academia”. The Mayor at the time even said his job was like being “in charge of a 6.5 million person classroom.” Exactly. Pedestrians — and everyone else — are just stupid schoolkids who need discipline.
The City of Cologne knows this, too. They put goofy clowns out there to guide school those pesky pedestrians.
9. Exploit Children
Kids are great. They are, after all, future motorists. We can plant all sorts of stuff in their head. We used them to ridicule jaywalkers back in the day, but we’re not finished with them. Dress them up like clowns and throw them into the street to stop traffic. Call them“crossing guards” and give them uniforms and a sense of importance. All to mask your true intentions.
10. Fake Your Concern
Okay. Fine. Once in awhile you actually have to pretend you care. Pay some people a bit of money to stand at crosswalks with flags equipped with a magical force field that will stop 2000 kg of steel and metal. Pretend you are “helping” and “doing something”. It works in Sao Paulo.