I watched a bit of the Tour de France cycling race on TV yesterday, and was alarmed by some of the onlookers. Why do the organizers let the crowd stand so close to the cyclists? Some of them were actually waving big flags in the riders’ faces! This is not a good thing. I yelled at them on the TV screen “Get out of the bloody road!” several times, but they didn’t listen.
It’s a long race, so there are many miles of road along which there are people cheering for the athletes. They have advance cars and motorcycles going ahead of the riders, so why don’t they also make sure the crowds stay off the road?
I ran into similarly bad roadside crowd behaviour when I went to a parade in Edmonton recently. At first, everyone was quite well-behaved and stayed on the sidewalks. Pretty soon, though, someone stepped forward into the road to take a photograph and stayed there. Then someone else stepped out further so that they, too, could take a photo without getting onlookers in the frame. Then other people couldn’t see the parade approach, so they also stepped into the road. Eventually there were four people in the road beside me, and I couldn’t see the parade until it was right in front of me. I suppose I could have said something or moved out into the road myself, but I didn’t. It was a minor annoyance and I didn’t want to put a damper on the bonhomie of the day.
What is needed, I think, is a small army of people with those long poles with loops at the end that lifeguards use at swimming pools to fish people out of the water.
They could be stationed one to every block. As soon as someone stepped off the curb into the road, the roadguard could haul them back onto the sidewalk. That would be entertaining in and of itself. I’d go to a parade just to watch them do that!
I can imagine a whole new spectator sport around this. We could cheer as the people were yanked back, and score them on their expressions. Two points for surprise, three for annoyance, four for soccer-player-style writhing, and five for diva-style agony. Roadguards could be rated on their people-hauling abilities, and be rewarded with “likes” based on the number of Youtube hits their videos get. And there would be videos. Lots of them. They might even surpass the videos of the parades themselves. Oh yes. I’m liking this idea.