I’ve been a bit grumpy these last few days. I think I’m experiencing sunshine withdrawal after the glorious spring weather we had last week. So I decided to take myself for a walk at lunch today, hoping to chase the grumpiness away. Alas, all it did was highlight how exposed and fragile people are.
I’m primarily a cyclist and a pedestrian. I’m also a driver and a transit user. Not to toot my own horn, but I like to think this sharpens my awareness and influences my actions with all modes of transportation I use.
I obey traffic rules while riding my bike, and frequently dodge pedestrians and cars that carelessly cross into/over designated bike paths. I look both ways before walking across the street and exhibit extra caution when approaching parking garages and the like. Good thing! A car failed to stop at the line with the word ‘STOP’ written in big bold letters before the sidewalk while exiting a parking garage today. And I try to give cyclists extra room while passing them in the behemoth van or car share cars that I drive.
Not that I’m perfect or always as careful as I should be. I tend to be a bit of a speed demon on my bike, I occasionally pull into the crosswalk while waiting to turn at an intersection (sorry fellow pedestrians – this actually infuriates me) and I can be a bit of a cocky pedestrian. Especially when I’m cut off by a car. I know. I’ve just clearly demonstrated my own hypocrisy.
I’ll get to the point. My lunch time meander led me to a (new to me) café in Gastown, Buro Espresso Bar. I got an Americano and started my walk back to the office, feeling like I had made some progress in chasing the grumpy cloud away. And then, BAM!
A cyclist got hit by a car that pulled into a parking lane and cut him off. He fell off of his bike onto the curb. The driver immediately stopped and got out of her car. She was very apologetic and offered to give the cyclist her phone number for insurance purposes. The cyclist proceeded to yell, smash & swear. He kicked & completely smashed the passenger side mirror of the car. To the credit of the driver, she remained calm and the cyclist rode away.
I meekly said to the driver “in all fairness, you kind of deserve the broken mirror, this could have been much worse. Yesterday, a friend of mine was cut off by a car and now has a broken arm”. To which she calmly replied, “I know. I take full responsibility.”
Let’s be clear here. I am NOT condoning the cyclist’s decision to intentionally damage the car. However, I can fully sympathize with the adrenalin rush and anger from being hit or nearly hit by a car while cycling or walking. The overwhelming desire to yell, smash & swear is sometimes uncontrollable.
The bottom line is that we ALL need to exercise more caution, awareness and thoughtfulness while driving, cycling and walking. There’s plenty of room for everyone.