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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Path-ological disorder

Sideline from today's Irish Independent

Rage is all the rage these days. We’ve all heard of road rage and air rage, and this week, Martina Devlin wrote about gift-buying rage on these very pages. Well, I've recently started to believe that I may have path rage. One might even go so far as to call me a "psycho-path".

This blood-boiling condition of extreme frustration and anger is a year-round affliction, though it's known to be exacerbated at key points in the year - mainly summer and Christmas time, and other such periods that draw huge numbers of people and tourists onto our capital's already bursting-at-the-seams footpaths.

Those of us susceptible to path rage are fast walkers, and like to be able to get about our business quickly by manoeuvring our way through Dublin's streets and sidewalks without interruption or obstacle. How and ever, at present such ease of passage is nigh-on impossible unless one becomes an expert in the French athletic art of Parkour, as demonstrated in the movies Die Hard 4.0 and Casino Royale, where the practitioner agilely leaps over all public encumbrances with gravity-defying ease.

Oh just imagine being able to deftly avoid all the caravan-size buggies and prams, the joined-at-the-hip couples, the snail-pace, lolly-gagging tourists, the bewildered shoppers that occupy over twice their body space with bags, the gangs of school kids stopped mid-path to agonise over their latest teen angst drama, and the inconsiderate Nu-Yuppies who think a phone call is reason enough to halt mid-step, set up shop right in the middle of a narrow thoroughfare, and bray on their mobile with ne'er a thought for all of us suddenly piling up behind them. Nassau Street in Dublin, I'm thinking of you in particular as I write this.

But since that acrobatic solution isn't realistic for most of us, I think Dublin's city overlords should look to New York City and London, where the idea of slow and fast lanes for pathways and sidewalks is being seriously considered. I can't think of any other way for speed-walkers and strollers to live peacefully side-by-side. We don’t expect cyclists to have to share the same path space with walkers, so why should we speedy steppers have to suffer alongside slow coaches? I don’t like having this rage in me. I’m just looking for a simple, speedy way to take the path of least resistance.

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