ISSN : 2266-6060

Watchfulness

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New Haven, october 2013.

This is one of the first lessons for children: go over there only through crosswalks , hold hands, wait until the light is green , all these little things that we gradually quit with adulthood. “Parisian walkthough” is to get sure nothing comes, then walk or run across the streets, the shortest wat and when necessary . But you must be able to see, hear, judge distances and speeds of vehicles from either side. To sum it up, know your environment and exercise constant watchfulness.
But we are far away from Paris . Here, in this setting imported from England in the middle of one of the most prestigious global universities, everything seems calm. The speed of vehicles is very limited and pedestrians, students as employees of the university, go quietly. Their vigilance is relaxed and sometimes too loose : every year, one hundred people end up in ER after a collision with a vehicle. In this metropolis of knowledge, pedestrians do not look far away, or even in front of them, but on the screen of their phone or their tablet, so facing the ground. So, when fluorescent orange signs appear at the edge of their visual field , they can only see and stop to read them.
Paradoxical prevention message that takes devious uses: we know that you will not do what your are expected to, so we take that into account. A signage at man’s height , with usual contours and colors, will not be looked at or even seen. But with these stencilled letters, shiny and incongruous that appear behind your screen, you wake up . You’re not anymore with other artifacts and humans, you are now at the edge of the street and, like the child you were, you look far away before crossing.