Saturday, November 21, 2009

Walking Impossible

Orlando had been named the worst city for pedestrians in cities of at least a million residents according to a report issued by Transportation of America called Dangerous by Design. To focus attention on this problem, Brian Feldman plans to walk across the 12 most dangerous intersection in Orlando.
When I arrived at the corner of West Colonial Drive and Pine Hills Road, Brian was at a crossroads, literally. I could see his bright yellow reflective vest from a block away, and as I approached Brian was on his iPhone and walking away from the intersection. When he saw me, he started walking towards me. We spoke and he was considering giving up the project which would involve his walking across this intersection 51 times which is the number of people who had been hit at the intersection in the past two years, 5 people died crossing the intersection. He plans to walk across 12 other intersections over the next week. The number of people hit in the intersections culminates on December 1st with 110 people hit at the corner of Silver Star Road and North Pine Hills Road, with 11 people killed.
By the time I arrived, Brian had already walked the four corners of this intersection 12 times and now he was considering scaling back the project. He said, "This is what happens when you don't have a girlfriend. She might have talked me out of this, or at least talked me into a more scaled back performance." I told him I thought it was a fantastic concept but it is certainly very dangerous. He said to me, "I need a mask, I didn't consider all the fumes." I explained that a medical mask really wouldn't cut back on the fumes. Then again, they wear masks in Japan. Maybe I was wrong. Does anyone have a mask to lend Brian? He had to make a call. He walked over to the intersection and started talking on his iPhone. Then without another word he started to walk the intersection again. I began to sketch.
There was a near collision between 2 cars at one point and there was the periodic honking of annoyed drivers in a rush to get somewhere. Brian noticed several cars that ran the red lights. One recreational vehicle took a sharp turn onto Colonial and a huge forearm sized chunk of metal flew off of it onto the street. As he crossed the street on foot Brian paused at the center median thinking he would remove the metal object from the road. Before he could however, a truck ran the object over sending it flying into the air as so much shrapnel. Another car ran it over and it flew to the far side of the road with a loud clang. A frail emaciated woman came strolling across the road ignoring the signals and I was sure she would get hit but she survived.
I began this sketch by drawing Brian on his iPhone and later I decided to draw him out crossing the intersection as well. Some driver on the far side of the road started yelling at me, "Hey!! Hey!" I looked at him and waited for him to yell something intelligent, but no intelligent comment was forthcoming. I lost interest and continued to sketch. When I finished, Brian told me he had crossed the intersections four corners 30 times. He is twittering his experiences and shooting photos on his iPhone. This is without a doubt the most dangerous project Brian has ever attempted. He needs some intervention. Someone please go out there and talk him out of this performance. It is far too dangerous.
P.S. A short video was made about the project.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Tricia said...

He needs a respirator, a mask will not help with exhaust fumes, it just filters out particles.

Thor said...

Anyone happen to have a respirator and some bottled oxygen to lend Brian?

Brian Feldman said...

At approximately 9:30am today, at the intersection of S Orange Blossom Trail & W Holden Ave in Orlando, where 60 pedestrians had been struck and 6 killed in the past two years, my friends Rachael & David Rogers staged an unexpected intervention, which you had called for with this very blog post following Day 1.

“Pedestrian, or Walking: Impossible” is hereby suspended until Tue 1 Dec 2009, with a retooled concept. Complete details pending.

Robyn said...

and it is just as dangerous for bicyclists. i've been spat on, cursed at, told to 'get my punk ass on the sidewalk' [punk ass? i wasn't sure whether to be flattered or insulted] still, as a cyclist i'm supposed to be in the street. when i'm a pedestrian and there are no sidewalks, what option do i have? i don't understand how they can build a city with no sidewalks. but then, i'm from NYC, mecca for sidewalks and public transportation.

Anonymous said...

He is mad man. I mean that in the most respectful sense of the word of course. There is often a thing line between genius and insanity and he dances that line on this one.

Johannah said...

I drive down Silver Star pretty regularly for work, and I've got to say, A LOT of people are crossing when the light's green (same goes for Hwy 50).

Believe me, I'm all for more pedestrian awareness (my dog and I brave the notorious Washington Summerlin intersection daily), however, pedestrians have to learn/follow the rules, too.

That said, we totally need pedestrian bridges here. Las Vegas has them and they work great.

Brian Feldman said...

Pedestrian, or Walking: Impossible is being resumed, in a revised form, on Tue 1 Dec 2009.

Over 12 hours, I will travel to the 12 most dangerous intersections in Central Florida, warning pedestrians of the dangers they face by walking across them. I will then attempt to cross each intersection at least once. 79 pedestrians were killed in vehicle crashes at all 12 intersections in 2007 and 2008.

Walking is my primary mode of transportation. However, due to the time constraints of this one day project, I will be driving to all 12 intersections.

Thor said...

I have seen facebook status reports from Brian so I can confirm that he survived the second revised performance of "Walking Impossible".
I was surprised when some people would get violently upset when I told them about this performance. They would rant on about how people do not use the cross walks and that is the only reason people get hit.