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The Rise Of The “pedestrian”

In response to Covid-19, cities worldwide are transforming roads into walkways. Dunedin, in attempts to keep up with this modern trend, recently decided to reduce the speed limit to 10 kmph on the main shopping street, pitting the motorised against this uprising species, the “pedestrian”.

As Councillor Jules Radich recently declared in an interview with the ODT, “There has been nothing done to attract people to the main street other than to say that we’re going to make it better for pedestrians”. And this is the crux of the matter: we are not talking about people, we are talking about “pedestrians”.

Now, the “pedestrian” is, by definition, someone who walks using their birth legs in order to move around rather than travelling in – or on – a vehicle. This clearly raises the question, how can you call yourself someone who contributes to their community if your vocation is to simply walk around?

Let us take the driver, on the other hand. It is common knowledge that only someone who travels in a motorised vehicle is a valuable citizen, i.e., a consumer who actually gives back to society and, most importantly, supports local businesses. In addition, this “pedestrian” can only go so far on their flesh and bone appendages. The driver, however, can drive to and consume in other towns and cities countrywide, thereby contributing not only on a local scale, but a national one.

Previously, “pedestrians” mainly stayed on the pavement, only occasionally venturing out into the road to manoeuvre from one portion of generously assigned asphalt to another. However, this newly imposed Covid-19 response plan allows them to freely walk along roads in the name of social distancing – roads that these freeloading “pedestrians” pay no tax for. On top of this, the Barnes Dance crossings will be active more often, further encouraging “pedestrians” to utilise a resource they have no right to. And they may not only use their feet: for instance, some “pedestrians” use strollers in which they carry their progeny. It is hard to tell what kind of damage increased footfall – plus, potentially, pedestrian-to-be carrying perambulators – could accrue on the roads. And who will have to foot the bill? Not the feet-using moochers who caused the destruction in the first place, but those magnanimously sharing the space with them (the driver).

However, not only do “pedestrians” not pay road tax – and consume less – they do not support their local petrol stations, choosing instead to live freely off air when travelling. Which leads to the next point: increasing the number of “pedestrians” in the city centre will mean that there are more of them around to liberally respire. And how is the coronavirus spread? It is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets. In addition, as they are, by definition, humans who move around, “pedestrians” exert more energy and breathe to a greater extent than stationary humans, thereby doubtlessly releasing more droplets from their gaping mouths.

Of course drivers, benevolently shrouded within their vehicles and breathing their own contained air (as well as taking less from others due to their sedentary disposition) pose a significantly lower risk in this respect. Yet, it is drivers who will undoubtedly be criticised for this altruistic act: they are frequently persecuted for polluting the air that these “pedestrians” in- and exhale so copiously. However, this 10 kmph limit, on top of back-to-back Barnes Dance crossing disruptions, will clearly lead to more alleged pollution as drivers will have to leave their motors running for longer than they would under normal, less pedestrianised conditions. And what will all these oxygen freeloading “pedestrians” do? Use this as ammunition for their continued pedestrianisation by stealth of the city centre, ignoring the above fact that this extra pollution is for their sake. Then, to add insult to injury, drivers will be left to pay for the additional petrol required for these hold-ups. But this will not only be an economic loss for them: drivers will have less money to spend in local businesses. And what of the insurance industry? They will also lose out financially, what with the reduction of accidents caused by drivers driving at a slower speed.

As “Brent Weatherall Jeweller” owner Brent Weatherall identified at a recent planning and environment committee on the “Safer CBD Streets – Covid-19 response” plan, “The fantasy of a bustling main street mall conveniently utilised by thousands of people and bird life in a lovely climate is just a dream”. How right he is, simply because the streets – and the roads – will be flooded by bludging air chompers, spreading their “pedestrian” ideology! You only have to look at what is happening in other cities around the world right now. And these urban transformations do not just concern “pedestrians”, but “cyclists”! However, they are clearly a whole different problem…

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