respect.... mutual respect

so much about what is wrong with traffic has to do with respect
people fail to respect others

car drivers do not respect other car drivers
car drivers do not respect pedestrian or bicycle traffic

for some reason car drivers become different people behind the wheel than they would be at work or at home
they become quite selfish
they often fail to empathize for others on the road

to start the change
we need to make a change

I try to be more concious of my actions when behind the wheel
I try to treat others how I would like to be treated
sure I like to beat the next car off the line
win pole position
pass the ineffiecient and ignorant drivers
but.... this is done at no one's expense and without breaking the law
effeciency... not high speed

as a cyclist I am very concious of other cyclists on the road
I know where to anticipate them
when I encounter a cyclist I often exhaggerate my safe behavior
treating the cyclist how I would like to be treated
giving the cyclist the space that I would like to be given
setting an example for the cars following behind me

this set of actions transfers to runners, joggers, walkers, and people moving about the streets
I am always looking ahead to the intersection expecting the people to step off the curb
when I approach a point where the bike path intersects with the road
I slow and give the people crossing the right of way
as I know how dangerous it can be to cross at these sections of road

it takes nothing for the car driver to slow, stop, and go
the seconds of waiting for someone to pass can be made up on the next straight away
running down the pregnant mom in the cross walk does not get me their any more quickly
nor does it give me any joy

my point...
cyclist need to think about cyclists not just when on the bike
but also when in the car
the same goes for runners, rowers, or whatever
if each subculture showed respect for everyone in their own subculture
then extended that respect to other similar subcultures
well... the roads would improve incrementally
it is a simple "pay it forward concept"
so simple

now how do we get this message out?


gewilli said...

gun... shoot the dumbasses who aren't considerate.

maybe start with a paint ball gun... shoot their windows/mirros...

then if they don't get it... switch to sub sonic 22 ammo...

and if they still don't get it...

hand grenades

D Achilleus said...

This is a good start. Emphasizing the human aspect. I reeled off a rant to the local Bike Fed e-list this morning ebcause of the usual "we want our bikes to be small cars" talking points.

Its human behaviour. We can't make new laws or post new signs to change everything we dislike about the things other people do. And until the aliens come and zap us all into higher levels of consciousness, everyday, our commute will have the same dangers, problems and joys - the same asshats will be out there and hopefully more of our friends.

But the bike lets us do that. We actually interact with people on the bike. you can't do that in a car. More contact, small, but incremental changes in collective behaviour.

Can I repost your entry to my Bike Fed list?

Also, people who come out of the LCI bike safety classes seem to change their driving habits pretty quickly. I think that talking a bike road safety class should be manditory for Drivers Licensing in all 50 states. Is that a worthwhile project?

Thanks for taking the time to think and write about this.

solobreak said...

The human interaction aspect is the key to it all. Numerous times I've had other drivers cut me off to get a parking space, then hold the door for me as I walk in the pastry shop behind them. It plays out everywhere, everyday. There are still some oblivious dumbasses on the sidewalk, but all in all pedestrian traffic is as cooperative as vehicle traffic is competitive. My rule is to try to never make anyone else have to use their brakes (unless they are an overly aggressive tool trying to race somewhere).

Traffic calming. I don't know. The speed limit on my street is 30 mph. The local police give out a lot of tickets, but rarely at the worst times. Between 6-8 am the average speed out there has to be close to 50. Aggressive enforcement does change behavior though. I roll down the street at about 30-35, and since the increase in enforcement, it seems I'm less likely to have someone playing bumper tag with me all the way to my driveway. It is going to take a huge movement to change society. Drunk driving used to be tolerated, but MADD did succeed in changing society's attitude to a large extent. Same thing with smoking bans. It can be done, but the challenge of changing motorist behavior in general may be bigger than either of these, and it will takes decades.

gwadzilla said...

some very good points
I agree in so many ways

in traffic on the bike I try to move through like a ghost
safe and gone before I get noticed
not asking or expecting anyone to do anything on account of me
I see red lights a yeild sign
but I also see green lights as a yeild sign

as a father I see giving tickets like hitting your child
it does not really achieve the goal
but a red light camera does something else
it offers the threat of a ticket
if there is always the threat
then there will be changed behavior

I am not for issueing tickets
I am for changing behavior

so often towing an illegally parked car is more of a nusance than a lesson

that said
some people will never learn

I am still evolving
far from perfect
evolving still


gwadzilla said...

today was like so many other days...

spent a little more time on the road than I usually spent

was out there playing superman... out trying to race the train

only I am mortal
and well
I respect the damage that the train can do
do I do not make that last leap infront of the cow catcher

while dodging potholes and bumpers I tried to get a better feel for my cross bike

traffic is a great way to practice quick stops and sharp corners

no work on dismounts

but plenty of trying to get speed for short distances only to stop and start up again

during my passage through various DC zip codes I got yelled at a times
the yells were not as frequent as the stares accompanied by the movement of the head

as if they are signing for the deaf

during this ride like so many rides
it is shocking how many people feel as my passing through is changing their progress

I am here and gone
if I slow traffic for a second
and yes I will take a whole lane for a minute
but never slowing anyone
as the next bumper is a 1000 feet away
and I am squirting past it
as the irate tailgating car gets stuck in the cattle call

got to dress the kids
they are screaming to get out of the tub

gwadzilla said...


Empathy needs to be taught

it shocks me
but people do need their eyes opened

if you could explain things the world
the world would say
I never thought of that