Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Driving in Such-and-Such a Way is Never a Really Good Idea

I was going to navigate this post in a similar way that I do when things are on my mind and its easiest for me to - and in general, that's in list or general rant format. The thing is that I've already done so, a number of times now, and I'm actually a bit tired of feeling the need to do so.

I understand that people are imperfect, and that there is always something that can be done better to ensure that one is providing a safe road environment for fellow drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Everyone has a momentary lapse of judgement or clarity, of course. But some of us make some unsafe, often simutaneously selfish decisions that contribute to a scary domino effect that can really mess up someone's day.

To be fair on my word to point this out to those who operate cars, this is the most dangerous behavior that I've spotted recently:

-trailing behind cars making left-hand turns, making a left into an intersection that has well gone past your red light

-when making a right-hand turn onto another street, looking for cars coming from the left and not at all into a crosswalk at the right

-not allowing enough room for cyclists to be passed in a safe manner when riding in the road

-not using left and right indicators to signal a lane change or upcoming intended turn

-swinging open the car door into oncoming traffic without checking for cars/bicycles

-pulling out into oncoming traffic without checking for cars/bicycles

-making a right - or, in some cases, a left - when the arrow is, in fact, red (I've seen this at the Orange Line and have seen both a car getting hit and a car just narrowly avoiding getting hit)

-going against traffic lights in general

And in general not heeding certain signs, such as... well, ONE WAY, DO NOT ENTER, and so on. Running stop signs is another big one.

It's easy to forget operating machinery is serious business. Because I ride my bicycle in traffic I find that if I don't ride properly I will only disrupt the flow of traffic. Someone might miss me, but they may also be very annoyed with my behavior. Someone might miss me, and then they'll judge all cyclists by my lack of care. Someone might miss me, but then one day someone might hit me.

Point being is that one thing leads to another leads to another, and if we become too comfortable in the things that we know are not good habits, it will catch up to us one day. The things that we do to prepare for our drive, from the major - keys, gas, insurance - to the just as practical - buckle your seat belt, check your mirrors, stick the key in the ignition, get into reverse, then drive - will mean nothing if we don't forget that the environment in which we maneuver is much bigger than we are. Mess with the balance, and mess up someone's day. Continue to do so, and it's possible that that day will one day be yours.

I hope to never have to make another post like this again.

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