Satire | ‘No one cares’: Oakland drivers express displeasure about poor treatment from pedestrians

By Anna Ehlers, Contributing Editor

During the summer months, a walk through Oakland may bear empty streets and sidewalks, but Pitt students are busy using this off time to reflect on their experiences living in Oakland during the school year. Namely, students want to discuss Oakland drivers’ rights. 

“No one cares about Oakland drivers,” proclaims Pitt junior Ryan Jackson. “No one cares. It’s never been a worse time to be a driver in Oakland.” 

Oakland’s population of 8,600 holds many drivers, many of them nonpermanent student residents, and all of them have grievances that they feel a burning urge to air regarding parking, road design and pedestrians. 

Jackson, a finance major who has been driving his parents’ Audi A4 in Oakland for a year now, drives almost every time he leaves his apartment on McKee, whether to class or to his friend’s apartment three blocks away. He laments a lack of parking space. 

“One time my usual parking spot on the crosswalk on South Bouquet was taken, so I had to park in someone’s driveway. It said, ‘No parking, violators will be towed,’ blah blah blah, but I just assumed they were bluffing, you know? There are signs like that everywhere.” 

The owner of the property was not, in fact, bluffing, and Jackson’s Audi A4 was towed at his expense. 

Oakland’s deplorable parking situation is well known among Pitt students and faculty, with dismal parking options both on and off Pitt’s campus and a miles-long waitlist for faculty’s on-campus parking. But Pitt senior Sadie Smith finds Oakland’s pedestrians to be a bigger obstacle to Oakland life. 

“They’re just constantly crossing the street,” she says. “I would have no gripes whatsoever with living in Oakland if not for the pedestrians who cross the street.” 

Smith has kept her parent’s Subaru Outback for the two years she’s been living off campus in Oakland, and she says she needs it for the once-a-semester occasion that she drives half an hour to her parents’ house for the weekend. She tries to limit her driving around Oakland, however, due to multiple incidents she’s had that she cannot disclose to The Pitt News while in the midst of court procedures. 

“Pedestrians are hostile — they’ll get mad if you don’t slow down, and they’ll watch you to see if you’re gonna stop at a stop sign,” Smith says. “I always feel really judged when I just roll right through it.” 

The pedestrian problem seems to coincide with a bigger issue at hand — Oakland’s poor road design. Bates Street, for example, only has crosswalks on every other intersection — South Bouquet, Atwood, Semple and Zulema. But many pedestrians tend to cross anyway at intersections where there aren’t any crosswalks, such as McKee, which can be incredibly dangerous. 

“I mean, I hate having to stop for pedestrians at any intersection on Bates,” Smith says. “It really just kills my vibe. Whenever I drive, I like to just gun it down the hill towards the Boulevard, especially after I get road rage from having to stop for all the pedestrians.” 

One regular pedestrian also takes issue with Bates Street. 

“I live across the Boulevard, so I cross Bates everyday, and it’s easily the scariest part of my walk — even when I use the crosswalks,” contributes B, an Oakland resident who asked to remain anonymous. 

Oakland’s driving crisis seems to affect pedestrians just as much as drivers. B detailed a scary encounter in which they were almost hit at the intersection of Louisa Street and Meyran Avenue. B was about halfway across the crosswalk when a car pulled up to the intersection, and despite seeing B in the road, drove forward anyway. Two months later, B was almost hit again, and then again. Most recently, they were nearly hit at the intersection of South Bouquet and Sennott Street during finals week. That was when B got angry. 

“I just lost it. I was on the way back from completely bombing a final, and I was so mad and crying,” B says. “I smacked the trunk as it passed by and screamed, ‘You wanna f— me up, buddy? Go ahead and do it, you goddamn Toyota Corolla.’ And then I ran.” 

B says this aggressive incident in particular is why they asked to be anonymous for this interview, and they try to avoid Toyota Corollas in the street nowadays. 

As for how to rectify these many driving-related issues, B finds the answer clear.

“More crosswalks, more stop lights, and just better drivers,” they say. 

The drivers have different ideas about how to fix these problems, however. Smith suggests stricter jaywalking policies and less “unnecessary” stop signs. Jackson encourages more legal action on the behalf of drivers. 

“Us drivers need more rights,” Jackson proclaims. “As Martin Luther King said, rights don’t come easy. You have to fight for them. And we will do that.” He nods, looks contemplatively into the distance, and then adds, “And it will probably take hitting more pedestrians.”

Anna Ehlers is the layout editor. Reach her at