Sunday, September 6, 2009
It all starts with respect
We often don't think of the inherent danger that lies in being part of traffic on our streets yet it is something all users (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians) may face. This is especially true in cities with an increasing number of users on a not-so-increasing number of roads available. It is inevitable to expect conflict between users when demand exceeds supply. Tempers flair and harsh words are exchanged but rarely do things escalate beyond that.
Unfortunately, things did escalate on September 31 at the cost of a cyclist's life and a politician's livelihood (I have no intention on passing judgment on anyone in this case, that is best left to the court). The events that occurred that night has certainly had an impact for road users and word of it spread quickly, even Lance Armstrong (http://twitter.com/lancearmstrong) tweeted about it.
Though it is easy to blame one side I constantly remind myself that I was not there and I do not know all the facts of what happened and ultimately who is to blame. That being said, a lot of my non-bike friends (Bike Muggle?) ask me what I think about the incident I can only say that there is something to learn from this and that is the importance of respect. Rules of the road are only effective if drivers, cyclists and pedestrians respect them and the responsibilities/rights given to all users. Everyone has a right to the road and a right to be safe on it and it is our responsibility to uphold that.
The flip side to that is that we need to respect people as much as we much as we need to respect the rules. Lashing out in anger, violence and rude behaviour is by no means a way of solving a problem. This is the hardest part for many of us (myself included) but we have to approach each other with respect...even if the other person was not paying attention to the road and nearly colided into you. Yes, it sounds silly but there are more peaceful ways to warn the other driver that he/she is nto respecting the rules of the road. If we approach drivers in a hostile manner then chances are they will be defensive in a hostile manner too. If we can't show them respect on the road then how can we expect them to show us respect?
****This is something I wrote MONTHS ago but never posted it until now...****