When you live along a six lane highway, options for dog walks (or any walks for that matter) are limited. Leaving my house, I can only turn one direction and from there, walks are primarily a matter of trying to hunt out sidewalks.
So I head out on a one-block loop that my kids refer to as the “short walk”. The one great hazard of this trip is an extra-wide crossing over a maze of three streets intersection at odd angles, and neither crosswalks nor sidewalks to be found. The paucity of stop signs adds to the driver dominance, but having completed the “short walk” multiple times, I’ve become accustomed to tracking the variables.
On this trip across, I note (and successfully avoid) a patch of what could be black ice in the road as well as a set of headlights, presumably from a car parked straight ahead of me, before my street fording is complete. It is hardly the first time I have come across someone sitting for long stretches of time on this and other neighborhood blocks. As I continue on the sidewalk, the driver peels out. I cringe and turn backwards, wary that they will hit that patch of black ice but they turn right, just avoiding it.
Further down the block, I dally as my dog sniffs at snow and ice, a tree stump there, an unexpected piece of bark there. But soon I hear the unmistakeable sound of a car engine coming fast. The driver rushes down the hill next me, not so much as a brake tap through the stop sign, narrowly missing another car. I watch as it speeds off up the car-lined single lane road ahead of me. My heart pounds slightly. It’s not that this is the first time that this sort of thing has happened on a walk. It’s more that it will probably always remain jarring.
I take out my phone after I tentatively cross the intersection the car ran through moments before. The driver may come back this way and somehow maybe I will record it.
Sure enough a minute or two later, I hear the same engine and then the squeal of tires as the driver turns a corner a few blocks from me. I can hear that he is coming in my direction but am only able to record a few moments before he pulls off another road.
I have often read about and seen diagrams illustrating that drivers moving at increasing speeds have a decreasing field of vision. In other words, they faster they are moving, the less they see. So it’s highly probable that this driver didn’t see me. And yet, when you encounter them three times on a walk (and particularly when it’s the “short walk”) it’s hard to not feel like you are being harassed. And even more so when the driver is driving at such speeds, so recklessly, and noisily.
As I continue home, I have two more streets to cross. Even though there are marked crosswalks along both, I wait back in the shadows, far from the curb until I no longer seen headlights in any of the four directions that might be coming from. Regardless of whether or not that driver was targeting me in some way, what’s clear to me is this: none of them can be trusted.