Earlier today, I was browsing a bit, and I ran across something a former work colleague wrote in response to a cyclist who apparently ran a red light at a bike path/road intersection in Seattle.
"Hey Bicyclists — I’ll start sharing the road when you start respecting the law. A stop sign is still a stop sign dumbass!"
I had several stages of response to this. First response was to categorize this guy who I would consider a friend, and whose intellect I respect into the same place as all of the motorists who have no clue about what sharing the road really means. Second response was to get pissed off when I read the text literally – because he said "I’ll be careful when you are". Third response was to acknowledge that cyclists don’t uniformly respect traffic laws, and to recognize that my friend’s frustration comes from the fear that he perhaps came close to hitting the cyclist in question. That’d be a lot to live with. Knowing the guy who wrote it, I understand that he doesn’t really mean "I’ll be careful when you are". Then I calmed down a bit.
But given my own frame of reference about the relationship between cyclists and motorists, having a visceral response to this sort of thing isn’t a big surprise to me.
I also expect that my friend is a bit pissed off at being mildly taken to task for what he wrote. You know though – there’s a way for him to prevent that next time. It involves taking more than a split second to think about what you’re saying, and the way it might be perceived. Worse – on the off-chance he’s involved in an accident with a cyclist, this snippet could be cited in court.
Think about this a bit. You can’t push the burden of judgment off from either side. Motorists are operating vehicles with the capacity to take and alter lives forever, in the space of seconds. And with that privilege comes the unconditional responsibility to be totally aware of others on the road. On the other hand, being completely aware of others on the road matters a whole lot more to the cyclist (given that they’re a lot more vulnerable), so you can’t view stop signs and other traffic laws as optional.
Like it or not, on the road, we depend on everyone to show patience and good judgment. Makes you think twice about whether you need to be on the road, doesn’t it ?