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Please walk faster

| Tuesday, February 27, 2018

When I’m not toiling away for The Observer, I’m also an admissions tour guide. While poring over the tour guide manual in preparation for the job, I was amused to discover that an unusually high proportion of Notre Dame students were varsity athletes in high school.

“That’s funny,” I thought. “You would never know that if you just observed the quads and other major campus walkways for an hour.”

Students at this University move unbelievably slowly. I’ve wasted hours of my life stuck behind slow walkers meandering down South Quad. People’s legs must be tired from all those high school sports.

Granted, my varsity sports were cross country and track. Therefore, I like to get places in a hurry. I jog when traveling in my dorm because I think walking takes too long. Unless I’m exercising, I walk like a normal person in the outside world. But I walk with dispatch. I don’t lackadaisically shuffle.

I learned to drive on the congested roads of the Washington, D.C., metro area. Thus, I consider myself an amateur expert on traffic flow with some wisdom to impart. Lesson one: A single person moving slowly can cause a backup, especially on a crowded or narrow thoroughfare. When passing is difficult, the person at the front sets the pace for the massive expanse of travelers behind him or her.

Which brings me to lesson two: Taking up the entire pathway causes headaches for everyone. In one instance this fall, as I cruised down South Quad on a LimeBike, I noticed with irritation a group walking four or five abreast across the entirety of the path. As I approached them, I politely called out, “Excuse me.” No response. I was getting closer and had to slow down. “Excuse me,” I said forcefully. Nothing. By this point, I was directly behind them. Tapping my inner angry-D.C.-commuter, I angrily yelled, “Let me through!” The entire group turned and glared at me, as if I were in the wrong.

Third, do not look down at your phone. If you’re driving, you might kill someone (or yourself). But texting and walking creates problems for your fellow walkers. First, you are completely missing out on the world around you. You’re also not as good at it as you think you are. If you aren’t looking in front of you, the chances that you run smack into an unsuspecting fellow commuter increase enormously, especially where pathways intersect. In a futile effort to prevent that outcome, you walk slower. We’ve covered why that’s bad.

Are we in desperate need of a concrete solution to this campus crisis? Stop signs? Minimum speed limits? Traffic cops? I don’t think we’re there yet. The easiest thing to do is just walk faster. It makes life easier for everyone. If brisk walking is an issue for you, then just be cognizant of that and give people space to pass you.

If, however, my advice is ignored, then I am all on board for deputizing NDSP to hand out speeding (slowing?) tickets.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Tom Naatz

Tom is a senior at University of Notre Dame. He is majoring in Political Science and Spanish and is originally from Rockville, Maryland. Formerly The Observer's Notre Dame News Editor, he's now a proud columnist for the paper.

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