Collision course

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2011, 12:00am


I've been told more than once that Hongkongers are the fastest pedestrians this side of the Pacific. So why am I forever stuck behind the city's most ardent stragglers?

Little old ladies and overburdened labourers are excused for their pace. It's the entwined couple swerving on the pavement, the short skirt tottering in stilettos and, worst of all, the tech-head fiddling on a smartphone, who kill me.

But it isn't just distraction (by love or technology) or fashion that is the source of the problem - it's the lack of a sense of space. Instead of sticking to one side, people in this town love to drift to the middle of any open space. That pavement designed for three becomes a singular lane, leaving the overly caffeinated struggling to manoeuvre around.

I have seen a woman on crutches nearly knocked down by a young man ambling down the middle of a staircase. He ignored her as she pressed herself against the railing, clutching her crutches to her breast, lest they trip the man on his way down.

Maybe it's because most people don't drive here that they don't understand the concept of a passing lane? Or the international mix - do you pass on the left or the right? Too often, it becomes a game of chicken, with the awkward almost-collision, the shoulder-cuffing, the glares of disdain.

I remind myself to breathe. The diesel fumes lull me into a calmer (lead-filled) stupor and, I too, swerve into and stumble among the masses.