This “whit response” was originally published on July 16, 2010. Since then, no longer is this line true, “While it’s true, I too, have a vehicle at will which I count on still too much to carry me where I need to be.” Hence, the firsthand experience of walking the city is even more sharpened since the car has been ditched awhile ago.

Here’s a fact about the City of Harrisburg—-this capital city along the river is not very pedestrian friendly. Crosswalks are faded or non-existent. Crossings of major roadways such as State Street, Cameron Street, Forster Street, and Front Street are perilous because of speeding vehicles, multiple lanes, and few if any safety precautions in place. Throughout the city, cars (illegally) parked too close to corners make intersections difficult as walkers are forced to step out to get a clear look both ways. On top of all that, there is too prominent a disregard of vehicles to walkers. 

Thus, this ode to the driver’s of the city….

To the cars of the city, profuse misuse and day-visitors galore, to you I address this ode.

While it’s true, I too, have a vehicle at will which I count on still too much to carry me where I need to be.
I do my best to resist the pull of my convenient mule and go on my quest using only my legs and feet.

Yet as I walk about to market jaunts and favorite haunts, I see many things that add doubt to the safety and ease of walking our city streets.

The most frustrating, I say, is the lack of respect which should be bade between all those who meet on the street.  Whether from driver to driver, from driver to neighbor, or from driver to walker, where is the regard for one to another that should be?  Was there once?  When did it go so wholly away?  Alas, so few are the times when the polite nod of courtesy is granted me by those behind the wheel.

So to the grand neglect I see from the driver to the pedestrian, please consider the appeal of these points of request to you:

  • Use your turn signal.  How else would I have known that you meant to turn right as I stepped off the curb believing the way was clear?
  • Slow down. There’s so much going on and too many of us moving at once for you to speed the throughways, the market lanes, and the narrow alleys of our city.
  • When I stand at the curb, ready to cross, please leave way for me to use the street, i.e. don’t cover the crosswalks. To go around your car is a silly nuisance that a pedestrian by law shouldn’t have to take.  After all, since if I stand at the corner showing my intent to cross, then I am declared the right of way.  Once I cross, you may pull up to make your move.
  • To reiterate, at a stop-signed intersection a pedestrian has the right of way.  If there I stand, as you approach, I ask you to slow to a stop to let me know that it is safe for me to go.
  • Look left, look left, look left even on a one-way street. A pedestrian could be standing there.  Such a danger this is on Front Street, where pedestrians are always trying to cross while cars speed in three lanes of swelling traffic as side streets from Uptown to Downtown spill even more drivers onto this shame of a racetrack road.  It is at these corners that I meet the drivers the most who fail to account for me to the left, to the left, to the left.
  • And lastly, with great stress I ask of you to think of ways to use your car less.  Are three blocks really too much to walk for a gallon of milk and smokes?


Illustration by Ammon Perry: Doodletillomega: Illustrations and Drawings by Ammon Perry