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Walk This Way

In Tulsa, learning how to navigate roadways properly can be the difference between life and death.

Rob Harmon
July 28, 2019

Walking is so pedestrian these days. What with the rise of the Lime electric scooter or Bird rides. But walking isn’t dead yet. It’s still the best way to get around and exercise if you love taking in the sights and sounds along the way. And you’re burning calories without putting too much strain on the knees and ankles the way running can — all at your own pace. Walking adds to your good health, on your terms. Plus, how else can you brag about how many steps you’ve put in around the water cooler at work the next day?

Taking a walk is not a bad way to sneak in a workout during your hectic workday. At lunch, especially if you’re working downtown, you can pop down the elevator to the street and take a brisk walk to Albert G’s Bar-B-Q, Baxter’s Interurban Grill or any of the excellent Justin Thompson and McNellie’s Group restaurants, have a quick bite and walk back. What a great way to burn those extra calories in the middle of the day.

Tulsa does have some unique places to walk, too. But there are some things to remember before lacing up those walking shoes.

Stand out
Wearing brightly colored clothing is a great idea during the day, and if you have to walk at night, wear light colored or reflective gear. Beiges or greys while walking on the street or sidewalk don’t help drivers spot you. Even at dusk, there may be a bit of daylight, but a driver’s vision is diminishing by the minute. A colorful hat or pair of shoes is always great, day or night. Standing out to drivers is the key.

Stay alert
Staying alert means remaining fully aware of surroundings. With earbuds in and dark sunglasses on, your hearing and sight are hindered. If you can’t fully use your senses then you’re risking collisions with runners, scooter drivers, and cars on the road. Your life is more important than listening to your favorite tune or looking stylish.

Make eye contact
Sad to say, crosswalks are tricky. You know about the crosswalk. Those are the zebra-lined areas from one side of the street to the other where pedestrians have permission to walk, and vehicles have to stop until they make it across. Drivers know all about them when they’re walking but forget about them when behind the wheel. So, when you use a crosswalk, make eye contact with drivers. If you’re not sure they see you, wait.

Use crosswalks
Using crosswalks will almost always feel inconvenient and unnecessary. Nevertheless, choosing the crosswalk when signals permit is still safer than arbitrarily choosing where to cross the street, because drivers are more alert at intersections. Being as predictable as possible is essential for a pedestrian’s safety. Drivers expect pedestrians to cross the road at intersections and are therefore more vigilant. However, crosswalk or not, walkers must be more conscious than drivers because a vehicle always wins the walker-vehicle showdown.

Face oncoming traffic
Seeing what’s coming your direction while walking is probably the safest thing you can do. Even on a walkway separate from the road, strolling in the direction of oncoming cars is wise. Especially if there isn’t a sidewalk and you have to share the road, walking on the side of the vehicles headed toward you allows you to see them and to stay out of the way of the ones coming your way from behind you.

Look both ways, three times
Drivers have a lot of distractions. On top of already driving too fast, drivers have billboards to read, smartphones to text on, SiriusXM radios and podcasts to listen to, and even movies to watch. Do them a favor and pay attention. Don’t just look both ways before crossing. Look right, then left and then both ways again as you begin. Then one more time as you cross. Cars are moving faster than you think and sometimes quicker than they should.

Avoid alcohol
Whether behind the wheel or walking, too much alcohol in your system impairs judgment. Of course, if you’re leaving the pub after several drinks, walking home is preferable to driving, but there are other options. Get a ride from a sober person. Budget nights out to include an Uber, Lyft, or a taxi. Besides, after a time at the bar, you’ll probably be walking in the dark, which isn’t suitable for several reasons.

Avoid night walking
First of all, there are more intoxicated drivers at night. Secondly, even sober drivers can’t see as well in the dark. It’s tempting to walk at night in cooler temperatures, so if you can’t avoid it, make some decisions ahead of time. Reflective shoes, shirts, and bottoms can be found online or at sports stores and are worth the life-saving investment. Don’t walk on the street. Don’t listen to music. And don’t walk at night while intoxicated.

Walk in safe places
As already stated, when possible, walk on sidewalks instead of the street. Walk during the day, as opposed to nighttime. Beyond that, be aware of areas that aren’t safe to walk. Stay away from busy intersections. Avoid alleyways downtown or poorly lit streets. Walk in familiar areas or in neighborhoods where you know friends or family. Populated parks and public spaces are preferable to areas around abandoned warehouses and other places with no one around.