Safety at Monterey

Safe walking"You mean you're supposed to walk on the left facing traffic? I always walk on the right!"

A friend of mine was taking a walk just as I was. If you come face to face with another walker going in the opposite direction, it's pretty clear that one of you is on the wrong side of the road, a circumstance which people usually ignore. This time, though, my friend said, "Hey! You're going the wrong way!"

It seemed to me a shocking lack of knowledge by an up-to-date woman in her seventies, recently retired from a successful career in real estate, but I wasn't about to miss my chance to point out which one of us was wrong and to preach about walking on the left side of the road.

"Oh, I get it!" my friend continued. "If you're facing traffic you can see a car coming towards you. If you're going with the traffic, a car can suddenly come up behind you. Neat!" Aha! I have a new recruit for safer walking, plucked from the group of about half the walkers at Monterey, who, sadly enough, walk with the traffic.

Distracted walking is not good.

Before we separated to continue walking in opposite directions and on opposite sides of the road, I grabbed the moment to emphasize wearing white or light clothing, especially walking early or late in the day, so drivers can pick you out quickly. At one time, those two points would have been enough to reasonably assure a walker's safety, but technology has tossed a new and powerful intrusion into today's reality. Walkers wearing earphones to listen to music have blocked out surrounding sounds, whereas talking or texting on cell phones and smart phones has become such an imperative that many people cannot forsake the habit for a moment even while walking. Drivers distracted by texting and talking have been the source of much criticism, but for some reason, walkers wired up to music or with cell phones in hand have escaped notice and blame.

Liberty Mutual conducted a countrywide survey of one thousand people, exposing findings that fully 60 percent of them routinely read and send texts and emails, talk on cell phones, and listen to music while walking and crossing streets, even though the vast majority realize that this behavior might be increasing the chance of getting hit by a vehicle or failing to notice tripping hazards.

For heaven's sake. HANG UP and keep that cell phone in your pocket, or stop walking and get to a safe place to answer or call with your phone. We have found the old fashioned pastime known as "thinking" can be a perfect accompaniment to walking.

Walk a mile every day. It takes about a half hour. The results will be mind boggling.