I love the idea of a world where no one is murdered, a world where no one senselessly dies, even a world where no one sensibly dies. You could say that I wouldn’t harm a fly, but when I drive in San Luis Obispo (and more specifically on campus) I abandon my entire peace-loving attitude, and turn to wholly encompassing road-rage.
I can’t even isolate a few particular events in the last few days; I guess you could say the rage (and fear) builing up in me in my previous two years at Cal Poly is now overflowing. Why do we, as residents of this town, possess no earthly sense? Myself included. Downtown I find myself stepping into an intersection without even looking for a quickly approaching Chevy Tahoe, or any other car for that matter.
Just yesterday, while in my car, I almost hit two bikers. While in my golf cart at work, I almost nailed at least six pedestrians. And while myself a pedestrian, I am sure I dodged the touch of God several times.
It must be the tao of San Luis Obispo causing its residents to believe they carry more weight than a vehicle. I will be the first to admit, upon deep reflection, that I have realized that I do not possess the knowledge, or considerable skill, it takes to deflect vehicles.
I thought long and hard on this issue of vehicle deflection and death by that very attempt, and I am left to wonder what it is about this town, about this campus, that makes us so bold as to step out in front of a two-ton car moving upwards of 30 miles an hour. I know I would never step off the sidewalk in San Francisco or Los Angeles without looking both ways at least three or four times. I would also never ride my bike around the streets of downtown L.A. and unabashedly cut off a driver. I would be killed.
Perhaps it is the distance between sidewalks. If the width of the street was narrower I can see more people trying to cross in front of cars. Maybe the citizens of San Luis Obispo are remarkably taller than the rest of the population. Or maybe it is the fact that we – the walkers and bikers of Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo – are the majority, rather than a very small percentage like in most cities. Whatever it is, I have seen the light (headlight that is), and the bumper and grill, and when it is coming right at you, it is easy to remember that whether you live in a town the size of a nickle or a city worth a trillion bucks, walking in front of something that is 20 times your weight is about as smart as believing Alaska and Russia share a border.
The bottom line is, mom was right. Look both ways before you cross the street, and, more importantly, let what you see in the street pass before you jet into the middle of an intersection. No one wants to play red rover with a lifted Ford Explorer.
Rachel Newman is an English junior. “That’s What She Said” takes a fresh and lighthearted look at issues at Cal Poly and in San Luis Obispo. The column will be appear in the opinion section bi-weekly on Mondays.