“Now, when you get bicycles coming down there, it’s such a wide area and they’re going anywhere and you’ve no idea where they’re going. Even if you can see them coming towards you, you don’t know whether they’re going to the left of you, the right of you."
That last part sounds very familiar: I've read it on the local newspaper's internet forum several times. Even if the forum has moderation to cut the spamming and trolling, plenty of those messages get through. Often they refer to Rotuaari (the pedestrian street downtown Oulu) or just to the pavement MUPs that are common in Finland.
Just a few days ago I uploaded a youtube video of a ride through the Rotuaari. I uploaded just to show what it'd looked like before christmas on a quiet afternoon. And to show the taxi revving like it was escaping a crime scene.
On the later part of the video, beginning at about 0:40, you'll see a woman carrying a bag coming towards me, drifting slightly right to left. So it looks like there will be a gap where I will be able to pass. Then she changes her mind and three steps later is going 90 degrees to the previous direction, straight into the gap that was there. Suddenly I had to change my direction. My camera couldn't keep up with my quick movements and skipped a few frames.
So to mis-quote: “Now, when you get pedestrians coming down there, it’s such a wide area and they’re going anywhere and you’ve no idea where they’re going. Even if you can see them coming towards you, you don’t know whether they’re going to the left of you, the right of you."
That video shows the other side of the coin: pedestrians are even more difficult to predict than cyclists. In just three steps they might have stopped or be going in the opposite direction. And the woman in the video saw me coming. What about those who I approach from behind?
My strategy for cycling in crowds is kind of same as if I was a faster downhill skier. The faster skier is uphill and behind the slower skier who can't see him. So it's the faster skier's duty to avoid collision. So even if there was a blind or deaf person among the crowd, in theory, he would be just another person and I should be able to avoid crashing into him, if he moved in a predictable way.
But it's the "you don’t know whether they’re going to the left of you, the right of you" part that gets mentioned most often in the local newspaper. If you think that through, if we are talking about pedestrians and cyclists on sidewalk MUPs, there is a clear admission of wrongdoing by the pedestrian.
The Finnish law says the pedestrian should use either side of the MUP. If you're walking your dog or pushing the pram with a baby, you'll probably want to walk on the side away from the traffic, so you're allowed to walk on both sides. It doesn't matter which side you walk on, the cyclists should have plenty of room to pass you safely.
|Two bad options vs one good?|
Of course, this doesn't help in cases where the paths cross and you'll be in the middle of the path anyway.