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Clash of the Titans

By Ryan Chirnomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 9, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ryan Chirnomas

History can loosely be defined as a series of struggles. For as long as man has walked the Earth, he has pitted himself against his fellow man to fight for his way of life. Revolutionists and monarchists. Communists and capitalists. Axis and Allies. Red Sox fans and Yankee fans. And so on.

As fate would have it, our quaint little campus is on the front lines of one of the greatest struggles of all time. However, in this battle, the lines are not drawn by views on religion, economics, or government, but by preferred modes of transportation. And this is a war not waged by Bibles, dollars, or missiles, but by minor collisions, dirty looks and perhaps even a few naughty words here and there.

But I must confess. I am a double agent. I am Rome's Janus; Batman's Two-Face.

I drive to campus, then walk to class. I feel the frustrations from both sides, and hope to bridge the gap somehow with my keen observations.

From behind the wheel, you are the most powerful person in the world. You've managed to take more than a ton of steel, glass and plastic into your control and maneuver it around as you please.

With more than 2,000 pounds of the finest steel Detroit has ever produced wrapped around you, everything else on the road is a potential speed bump: pedestrians, bicyclists, children, small animals. Clearly, the laws of physics are in your favor. The laws of right-of-way should follow accordingly.

But it doesn't always work that way. If you're unlucky enough to drive around campus at 10 minutes until the hour, it's quite possible that you'll end up waiting for the masses to cross the street, like a train waiting for a herd of buffalo to cross the tracks.

And as a motorist, the pedestrians aren't your only problem. You also have to keep a look out for those damn bicyclists. Many times, these folks feel themselves too good for the rules of the road.

Many choose instead to ignore those pesky stop and yield signs. Lucky for them, my brakes haven't died yet, otherwise they would inadvertently be crushed like grapes under foot. [Picture]

And, sure, if there were to be a collision of any kind, the bicyclist would most likely get the raw end of the deal. But the potential for a scratched paint job is huge for the motorist.

On the other hand, as a pedestrian, your power is not in pounds or miles per hour. Your power is in your presence. Surely, the car whizzing by doesn't want to run you over, so they have to stop, whether there's an official crosswalk or not. You, 100-and-some pounds of fragile flesh and bone, have the power to stop a mighty vehicle just by stepping out into the street.

Of course, you do so at your own risk, but I think most of us are nimble enough to jump out of the way at the last second. For those of you planning to take summer school, take special note: this unwritten rule of the road tends not to be applied during the summer. You just may get run over. You were warned.

Dodging cars isn't your only problem as a pedestrian. Again, those darn bicyclists keep causing trouble. Why, just a few days ago, I witnessed a nasty little bicycle/pedestrian collision. Poor girl got her dress tangled up in the yutz's bike chain. Just another casualty of life on the mean streets of campus.

So, friends, what have we learned from all this? Certainly, the mean streets of campus are no place for the timid. Nor is it a place for those with slow reactions. And while this little ol' column has probably done nothing to unite campus travelers, there is one clear take-home message. Rather than allow myself to pontificate on our migratory moral, I'll refer back to the advice that my mom gave me when I was a little kid: look both ways before crossing the street or else you'll get run over one of these days. Couldn't have said it better myself, mom.

Ryan Chirnomas is a molecular and cellular biology senior and can be reached via e-mail at Ryan.Chirnomas@ His column, In Hasselhoff, We Trust will appear every Monday.