Only when someone famous...

Not so long ago, the pavement and the pedestrian mall were relatively safe places. Not any more.

WHERE WILL he ride it? (photo credit: REUTERS)
WHERE WILL he ride it?
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Only when someone famous is hurt or killed in an accident involving a hoverboard, electric scooter, electric or ordinary bicycle or a motorbike does the media give such incidents the attention they deserve.
This week, supermodel Shlomit Malka, who is married to well known actor Yehuda Levi, was riding her electric scooter on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard when she slipped and sustained severe head injuries.
Had she been wearing a helmet, her condition would probably be less serious than it is.
Because she’s a celebrity, progress reports on her condition will continue to appear in the tabloid press. But what of all the other people – both adults and children – who are killed or maimed as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, ignoring the law or simply because the law is an ass? They become anonymous statistics important only to their families and friends, but not to the wider public or to law enforcement officials.
Very few pavements in Israel are wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and people on wheels – be they skateboard riders, bicyclists, motorcyclists, hoverboard or Segway riders, scooter riders or roller skaters. But riders of such vehicles come at pedestrians from in front and behind and it can be both frightening and dangerous for the pedestrian, especially when the rider is busy on his or cellphone, or has his or ears plugged with earphones. Senior citizens do not always have the agility to move out of the way, and toddlers don’t have the sense of danger that would prompt them to move sideways.
Pavements, footpaths, sidewalks, call them what you will, were designed for pedestrians in the days when the most popular mode of transport was a horse and carriage. The only wheels that should be allowed on the pavement are shopping and luggage trolleys, baby carriages and wheelchairs. All other wheels should be on the road – preferably on specially built safety tracks.
Not so long ago, the pavement and the pedestrian mall were relatively safe places.
Not any more. Many cyclists do not have full control of their bikes and weave precariously.
Few wear helmets. Many also have small children – even babies – sitting front and back, without any head protection. Motorcyclists frequently zap through pedestrian malls where casual strolling can wind up a painful experience at best, and a wheelchair at worst.
In addition to all this, the paucity of car parking facilities causes many drivers to risk heavy fines by parking on the pavement, which further reduces room for pedestrians and makes the presence of cyclists even more frightening.
In many countries, the pavement is strictly for pedestrians. Surely it’s time for Israel’s lawmakers to enact legislation to this effect and for Israel’s police to ensure that such legislation is implemented with heavy fines and prison terms for offenders.