“Always walk facing traffic.”
That’s something I learned at my mother’s knee. When walking down a road, always face the traffic ̶ that is, walk on the left-hand shoulder.
So when I encountered two walkers on Monday who were walking with their backs to me, that mantra echoed. I was heading from Wildgoose Lake to Geraldton, a distance of about 10 klicks.
Shortly thereafter, I passed a newly placed “Bump” sign. Probably Ministry of Transport workers, I thought.
Shortly after that, I encountered another “Bump” sign and a pair of walkers, also facing away from me. When I was about to pass them, they waved without looking back. They were cued by the noise of my engine.
Soon another pair of walkers appeared. Waved to me without looking back. I noticed they were carrying flags or banners. By the time I arrived at the junction leading into town, I had passed six pairs of walkers on the right-hand shoulder.
I was getting worried. I popped into the OPP detachment. Eventually I spoke to a constable. This was a dangerous situation, I said. And wasn’t there a law compelling walkers to face traffic? Not that he was aware of, he said. But he undertook to warn the walkers.
I imagined a scenario where walkers are meeting a highly visible vehicle. At their backs, a vehicle is rushing at their backs but they can’t hear it over the noise of the vehicle they are meeting. At that moment, a walker steps to the left, into the driving lane, to avoid a roadkill. Only the roadkill survives.
Downtown, I mentioned the situation to half a dozen people. Everyone knows, they said, you always walk facing traffic. And no, someone said, there is no law. It’s something one learned from one’s parents.
Returning home, I drove out of my way to meet some walkers. This pair of walkers was accompanied by an escort van, which was plastered with signs such as “No Meth” and “Stop Meth”. They were members of a group of 40 walkers. A few walkers from Island Lake First Nation in northern Manitoba, troubled by the curse of crystal meth in their communities, began the march on March 28 to raise awareness. After a thousand klicks, they arrived in Winnipeg, and found others willing to join them. They made a decision to march to Ottawa.
I wished them luck.
Silently, I wished that constable luck in contacting all 40 walkers.
They plan to reach Ottawa in 13 days.
Pray that no one steps aside for roadkill at the wrong moment.
Postscript ̶ I was unsuccessful in finding a credible GoFundMe page, but the walkers’ Facebook page is “SUPPORT and Raise awareness Walk #StopMeth for Islandlake” (sic). On April 23, they reported 4,401 members, and three days later, 4,465, but nobody accepted my application for membership.