The city heaves as dense living continues to increase in Sydney. Is it just me…. or are people becoming more aggressive? Are the stresses of overcrowding, high costs of living, longer workdays and less time for leisure, changing us?
I have seen my own behaviour change in response. Absent a car, I go everywhere on foot and via public transport. Over the past months, I have had numerous incidents with cars. Pedestrian crossings have morphed from a safe place to cross, into a gamble. Pedestrians are forced to stop and judge whether the oncoming car will stop, or whether they will drive straight through. Commonly, cars accelerate to get through the pedestrian crossing before they must stop, not slowing upon approach. It is as though the concept of stopping to allow people to cross at designated crossing is foreign to them.
Not only illegal, this boorish behaviour is dangerous and upsetting for pedestrians. Is everyone so hurried they no longer worry about the prospect of hitting a pedestrian? Do they feel so entitled to the road, that pedestrians are simply an inconvenience? When I used to drive, I would slow upon approach to crossings, making sure it was safe for me to drive through it, and stopping if anyone looked like they may soon cross the road. It was a matter of respect, safety, kindness and manners.
It now feels like the responsibility has passed onto the pedestrian, who gambles with their life each time they step foot onto a crossing. Drivers appear to be angry that they had to stop for you to cross the road, and they so often demonstrate a complete lack of manners, respect or kindness.
When carless, you walk everywhere, wait for public transport and carry everything: groceries, work items, books, and any household items you buy. This has made me strong, but exhaustion plays a part, and a sense of struggling to get the basics of life in place develops. Combine this amped up aggression from drivers, and I often arrive home feeling battered by the world. I don’t want to fight with drivers to uphold my right to cross safely at designated crossings.
I approach pedestrian crossings hoping to time it when there are no cars, so I can cross without angst. If a car is approaching, I stand at the edge of the crossing and look at the driver in an attempt to communicate that I want to use the crossing, but that I am not sure if they will stop. The speed, at which most cars approach a crossing, indicates that they have no intention of stopping, and will only do so if forced. This is wrong. It negatively impacts my daily experience in the world, leaving me feeling disrespected, upset, unsafe, and tired. This emotional burden reduces my quality of life, significantly. It is time drivers consider pedestrians, and how it feels to approach crossings and be treated with aggression and disregard.
I don’t know how to redress this phenomenon but I want it to change. I want people in the city to remember others and approach them with kindness.