Last week, while walking to work, I had a near civic experience.
I was walking in the narrow one-way street heading into the Grand Traverse Civic Center. There are no sidewalks and it was more crowded with parked cars than usual. It can be a bit of cluster-bunch there. I’ve always thought it just needs a bit of intentional design to improve it.
As I was walking, a car approached from behind. I moved closer to the south side of the street to allow room, but I was headed to the north side to access the trail system. As the driver pulled by, I made my cross expecting him to continue into the Civic Center. Only he didn’t continue, instead he stopped and abrubtly started to back-up without hesitation–I was already crossing the street and now directly in his path. Luckily, I did notice even if he didn’t and bounced out of the way. As I stepped around the front of the car and the driver continued to back-up apparenlty oblivious to my presence.
I had a completely normal human reaction; I shot a stink-eye and mumbled an insanity. That was enough. No harm, just a reaction. Moving on. Then the car stopped and the driver rolled down the window to ask, “what did I do?”
“You almost hit me. You didn’t have a clue I was walking there when you began to back-up,” I replied, not quite knowing what to expect and still a little rattled by almost getting smacked by a sedan.
He got out of the car and began to walk towards me. By now the park fence was between us and we both approached each other; choosing to further engage. I wasn’t in the mood for a fight. Really, I thought, do I want to do this right now. Thankfully, neither was he.
With an uncomfortable smile, he explained how he had seen me and expected me to keep walking on the right. I said I understood and simply had a reaction to all of sudden having a car backing-up towards me. I pointed out how the bottle neck of the entrance didn’t help the situation and that extra caution was needed due to the lack of design considerations. He wasn’t expecting a discussion about street design, but agreed and said he sees the problem. We both agreed to watch out and shook hands as best we could through the fence.
All quite civic and civil.
That’s it. A story of civility from the wild streets of Traverse City.