Fast Walkers Live Dangerously

By Rula Zein-Iddin

I am in awe of the rapid rate of change – predominantly for the better – in a country that has seen it’s share of hardships yet generously opens its arms to so many of its neighbors.

And yet, there is one thing that always intrigues me: the blatantly viral effect of anything innovative that is introduced to a society that is apparently craving stimulus.

This leads to the most incredible fickleness as the “targeted group” jump into huge queues at the latest restaurant opening, battle to be let in to the hippest night clubs and get on any bandwagon in the latest fitness craze which soon become distant euphoric memories as they discover and adopt the next trend.

More worryingly, I am concerned at how quickly things get out of hand.

Last night, as I rounded the corner on Wadi Saqra street, I nearly drove into a glowing stampede of “fast-walkers”.

They walk, jog and run proudly on Amman’s broken pavements with nary a care for the possibility of tripping or twisting their ankle.

They form wide rows that over-flow onto the highways & roads where our renowned manic drivers must swerve, brake or emergency stop in order to make way for this heaving mass of humans. If by chance you are unlucky enough to be stopped at a traffic light, you will need to patiently await several traffic-light changes while they cross the road en masse.

They are a truly impressive sight. Until you start calculating how many hundreds of people are actually there. All ages, all shapes & sizes.

Multiply the risk by the fact that there are several walking groups each owning a day of the week with their walking routes constantly changing, and you breathe a sigh of relief that you aren’t an insurance broker!

I would have liked to pull-over and take their photo but there was nowhere to safely park the car since they totally dominated the right hand side of the road. Which begs the question: Where is a car with a flat tire or engine trouble meant to stop?

Photo by Roba Assi

Photo by Roba Assi

People! There is no safety in numbers. I don’t care how luminescent you are nor how many flash-lights you wave at on-coming traffic; this is an accident waiting to happen! All it takes is an over- tired taxi-driver, a burst tire or a drunk-driver to wreak havoc.
Mayor of Amman! This is a desperate plea for parks, pavements & pathways where pedestrians can walk safely & with dignity; and without breathing in the freshly generated scent of carbon monoxide!

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  • Yasmine

    Thank you for sharing.

    Hopefully, the city will have well-planned parks and outings not only to provide a safe haven for walkers but also because people actually need a place where they can enjoy, relax or reflect.

    Moreover, a very rapidly growing pace of construction not accompanied or matched with decent public parks will end up making the city a huge white brick with no place to chill.

  • Tarawnah

    yesterday, these people crossed a green light of a major traffic light! can you believe that? this is just get ridiculous! if you're going to walk at least obey the law and stop at an intersection when the light is green and cars are waiting to move. instead, you get these guys with the light sabers waving 1000 people across the street like sheep.

    to say nothing of the fact that when walking on main streets, half of them end up walking on the actual road…what a recipe for disaster!

    respect the law people.

  • Hamzeh N.

    Who are these people?

    I think this group will make the case for changing the stupid law that always puts the blame on the driver when there is a run-over accident.

  • Mohanned

    So here is what you guys should do..

    Carry a couple of flags and some signs with things like “فلتسقط الدكتاتوريه” and join them..then start shouting allahu akbar and what not..they will be BANNED after that..

  • Khalid Masri

    These people are simply walkers, who are trying to change the habbits of using cars instead of walking in addition to drawing attention that there are no sidewalkes for people to use, besides walking with such huge group will let the drivers more caution to speed down their vehicles….
    Lets look at it from a positive direction and not to fight the idea.
    And for those who wait a while until the group passed the streets, how long does it took out of their time to wait at night? they wait more during the ruch hours in mid day.
    We urge all to join us walking and feel the joy of it instead of fighting the whole idea.
    FASTWALK was created to stay…. for the good health of the community….

  • Razan

    Mohanned, I like the way you think! :)

    But on a more serious note, this article really hit home. And no, Khalid Masri, it's not about the five or ten minute wait at the traffic light when your lot clog up the roads, it's about how you actually believe you're doing Amman a favor!

    The 5th circle is at the center of the main artery crossing the city, and the last thing our congested roads need as people are driving home is a complete standstill as your 500+ really-not-that-fast walkers spill over from the car park where you meet up to, quite literally, the middle of the roundabout! Add to that the late comers who cross the roads at insane junctions, such as the idiots I saw a couple of weeks ago crossing at the point where cars are shooting out of the tunnel under the 5th in the direction of Abdoun.

    Then you start walking, and as the more athletic ones speed up the me-too crowd wearing completely inappropriate shoes (I swear I saw a couple of ladies with medium heels) start drifting to the back, stretching out the crowd to a couple of kilometer long chain. Now tell me what city in the world is prepared for this many walkers on a weekly basis?! Seriously?

    It's like having people march across the M25 in London every week and then whine there are no pavements!

  • Hamzeh N.

    Thanks for your comment. I actually got curious about this group and searched for them on google. Found a couple of references and quotes from the guy who started.

    It's a positive initiative, I agree. Reading their rules, they stress safety by instructing people to walk in pairs when there's no pavement, walk against traffic, look around and not just follow the person in front, so it's obvious that safety is something that they are very conscious about, which really confuses me because the experiences of Rula and Tarawnah do not reflect safe behavior on the part of this group.

    Crossing the street when the walk sign is red and the traffic light is green is not only unsafe, but it's also illegal.

    I don't see the need to walk in wide rows to the point of having some walk on the road.

    I actually don't see the need to walk in a group at all. Maybe the role of this group should be to just identify safe routes which pedestrians can use to enjoy a walk in the city, without necessarily having to do it at the same time in a big group.

  • Hamzeh N.

    “500+ really-not-that-fast walkers”


  • Zaina

    i walked with them for a few months, the organizers of this group are always stressing the fact that safety is top priority during these walks, their slogan is “Walk fast, Walk SAFE” they run back and fourth screaming at the walkers to walk on the right side of the street, in pairs so not to pour out into the streets, they try their best to stop the walkers when the light is green so they don't hold back traffic, and the yellow vests is relatively a new rule also to assure the safety of these walkers. now at the beginning when i first started walking it was totally organized, no one disobeyed the rules but then 99% of those walkers were adults, with full knowledge of road safety and the common sense to not put themselves and others in danger. after a couple of months the youngsters started joining the walks, and the danger began, talking back to the organizers, not following the rules, walking in the streets, crossing where ever they felt like crossing, and sometimes smoking WHILE walking, a few fights occurred, and after that police (patrol cars) started tagging along, looking out for the walkers. now in my opinion the danger began when the kids started walking, under aged kids with out the company of an adult, each one walking where they want, not listening to the organizers. teen age children should not be out alone in the streets, what if something happened to one of them, how will their parents be contacted? this is to all the parents out there, take better care of your children, if they want to walk go out and walk with them, look out for them. us adults can look out for ourselves, this way we can assure the safety of the whole group even if it's a few hundred people walking.

    and please to all of you who are complaining, have the patience and try to be a little more encouraging, our country has a very high obesity rate, this is good for those who can't afford to go to a gym, this is a wonderful initiative , and we should all be proud that we have these kind of social events in our society.

    i think it's a great group, and would like to thank the organizers for their hard work.
    Walk Fast, Walk Safe :)

  • Razan

    All fair points, but I still don't see why the 5th circle is the most logical (not) meeting point?! There are quiet neighborhoods with lovely walk paths – wouldn't that be more appealing than the most congested road junction in the city?!

  • Catalyst

    إن المشي في المدينة هو الأولوية، وليس السيارة….من حق مجموعات المشاة أن تمشي كما شاءت وإن لم تجد مكاناً على الرصيف فمن حقها استخدام الشارع، دعني اذكرك أنه اذا مشى 50 شخصاً فهم لا يشغلون أكثر من 50 متراً مربعاً بينما كل سيارة تشغل حوالي 12 متراً مربعاً أي 600 متراً مربعاً بالاضافة إلى انبعاثات ثاني اكسيد الكربون.

    Respect “these” people right to walk wherever they want in a sustainable way of mobility and ban cars from driving where they are.

  • Universal Package Search

    good going

  • Catalyst

    Well, I don't know what the group objectives are , if it is simply walking around for fun or sports or promoting an alternative way – mass walking.. If it is the second then I'd encourage them to use the main roads as each single one of them is a vehicle by themselves…a vehicle that needs to be respected, given the main roads, infrastructure and shortcuts that cars have…

  • Yanal Al Hasan

    Have you ever witnessed someone stop at a pedestrian pathway on the street? You know if people would for sometime stop and let pedestrian walkers proceed with their way, that might actually ease up the traffic problem in Jordan.

    I must take the car to a very close gym to my house just because of the lack of respect some people have for pedestrians. I mean just stop your car for a second and let them pass and carry on. I have a street near my place which to be honest sometimes takes me more than half a minute just to pass a single lane on it. We all need to respect pedestrian traffic in Jordan. These fast walkers which I'm planning to walk with really soon are helping people realize they should exercise. They help everyone comprehend the fact that we need better sidewalks in Amman . Most importantly, they make us realize that we should always give the priority for pedestrian walkers in the street. Maybe our government can finally fix roads to make it more appealing to pedestrian traffic? For my part, I would stop taking the car to close places.

    Please people, don't criticize this group. CLEARLY, the benefits outweigh all the risks and disadvantages you are talking about! Instead go criticize the government which totally fails to provide routes that can deal with pedestrian traffic!

  • raghdabutros

    King Hussein Memorial Park is a large, safe, pollution-free place to walk alone or in large groups.

  • raghdabutros

    King Hussein Memorial Park is a large, safe, pollution-free place to walk alone or in large groups.