Trying to be a courteous bicyclist, I always attempt to warn pedestrians and other cyclists of my presence, especially when approaching them from behind. I do this by ringing my bike’s bell or calling out that I am on their left or right.
But, to date, I have not been able to find a way to get the attention of those walkers, joggers, etc. who are wearing headphones or earbuds. I call them zombie pedestrians. Short of a foghorn, tornado siren, or cannon blast, I am not quite sure how to garner their momentary attention. As a result, they are usually startled. Fortunately, to date they have not been startled enough to jump into my way, but sooner or later, who knows?
I am not the only cyclist (or driver) who has to contend with zombie pedestrians – just about all bike riders I know have complained about them at one time or another. To me, distracted walkers/joggers have become as commonplace as distracted drivers on cell phones.
Short of a law prohibiting distracted walking/jogging, what’s the solution?
Well, I am not exactly sure. At dawn and disk, your blinking headlight might help garner their attention. One innovative idea I have had is a digital bike bell (or car horn) that would be designed to ring directly into nearby electronic gadgets like iPods, MP3 players, and the like. There an idea for some enterprising person to jump on. Please send me 20% of all your future profits for sharing the idea. : ) Otherwise, repeated bell ringing or shout-outs are all I can think of as a way to wake them from their trance.
Sadly, it may take a distracted pedestrian colliding with a cyclist to wake them up. The problem is one or both could get seriously hurt. To me, that’s not really a solution, it’s a tacit acceptance of the problem.
Would be happy to hear other ideas and solutions for dealing with zombie pedestrians. Please send them along.