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Richard Glover: At cross purposes with city walkers

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At the Brisbane Writers' Festival last weekend I attended a session about Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the harsh, undemocratic laws with which the one-time Premier burdened people of Queensland. One example: he made it illegal to walk three abreast.

The aim was to give police yet a further tool to prevent protest marches and yet, as a Sydneysider, I could only think: "What an excellent idea."

Walking three-or-four abreast has become the only way for groups of friends to navigate the streets of Sydney. They walk, shoulders virtually touching, slowing in order to catch each other's conversation. Sometimes it's five-six-or-seven across, like a chorus line from a Broadway musical. I half-expect them to throw an arm around each other's shoulders and start performing the Can-Can.

Pedestrians navigate the CBD.Credit: Alina Gozin’a

You end up having to dart out onto the road in order to pass, putting yourself at the mercy of Sydney's drivers, who, of course, are even worse than Sydney's pedestrians.

There was news this week of a crackdown on jaywalkers, with police handing out fines of $76. If they are on the march against annoying pedestrians, why stop there?

Worse than the Chorus Liners are the Sudden Stoppers. There you are, going with the flow, a fish that's part of a school, and the person in front comes to a shuddering, instantaneous stop.


© The Age