A raft of measures is being considered by Durham Council in light of a pedestrian rage incident in the highly charged Church Street area. Those familiar with the scene will know that tensions have been brewing between two camps of people – slow and fast walkers.
The incident occurred at approximately 08:57 last Tuesday when a speeding pedestrian knocked down several slow-moving students before blatantly ignoring the red man at the Stockton Road traffic lights, to the horror of passers-by.
Police are currently looking for a man in his late-teens or early-twenties, seen at the time in a black puffer jacket, unironically flared jeans and a pair of white Fila trainers. Due to a number of people being seen matching the description, police believe the suspect may be part of a gang.
We spoke to a local Council worker about the issue and, although they were certain that others had the right to move slowly – “I move slowly enough in my day-job” – they didn’t like the paperwork that the number of complaints was generating for them.
“Changes are in the pipeline to address the root causes of the issues: narrow pavements, overcrowding and a lack of consideration for others.”
Redevelopment to accommodate the number of pedestrians in Church Street is proving difficult due to the narrowness of footpaths and immovable boundary walls. Mr Kripke, a local town planner said they were “between a walk and a hard place” on the issue.
However, a yellow box junction is in the pipeline for the pavement at busy junctions, including New Elvet.
Administrators suspect that legislation is, therefore, the only reasonable solution. Although there has been pressure in some quarters for a walker congestion charge, some fear the reaction of those who would be hit hardest. Our source commented, “If all of the History students involved held a sit-down protest, we would not be able to stop them. Just think of how much time they have on their hands. Nobody could pass by for days.”
Another proposal is for walking speed education classes to be made compulsory for those who consistently hold up others. Serial offenders will be required to wear mirrors and check behind for others to be allowed past, while fast walkers will be obliged to wear indicators.
Crowded pavements are believed to have been a perennial problem for pedestrians since the first students raced to 9ams in 1832, although it is probable that congestion did not pose a major problem until the science students arrived in Durham in 1924.
One surprising study into the recurrent issues found that carrying a heavier bag was positively correlated with a higher walking speed; scholars suggested the third variable may be the amount of work a student had to do.
Another experiment concluded that people were significantly more likely to make way if the approaching walker were wearing DU stash (Ultimate Frisbee kit not included).
Recently, psychologists attempted to investigate hereditary and environmental influences on speed-walking, but the pursuit was abandoned when they realised Psychology is not a real science.
We tried to catch up with Durham’s fastest walkers for some tips on how to put your best foot forward and step into another gear. One speedster suggested to always train by walking into the wind; “You may end up far from home but at least your skills will be going in the right direction”.
Another reasoned, “You are only as fast as the person walking ahead of you. Two words: passive, aggressive. Be aggressive and pass people”.
In more positive news, proof that harmony can be achieved between these disparate groups of people was given by a self-proclaimed slow-walker who told us how she met her speedy partner: “We hit it off straight away and it wasn’t long before he asked, ‘Your pace or mine?'”