Comment 65441

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted June 30, 2011 at 17:04:42

In all of the discussions about safety...pedestrian, cyclist, driver...we seem to be straining against things, some seen, some unseen, some forgotten. Because of the basic starting point of 'The RTH Philosophy', that of walkability, of humane, urban living, because of the vision that some/many/most here seem sincere about moving towards, often I sense that there are background truths that just...get...ignored. And what's frustrating to me is that I get the feeling that the same mindset that vehicular-centric people have ('That's just the way it is, don't bother trying to tell me how to behave/order my life/live my life') gets adopted by those on the other side of the fence.

The world has changed a lot in the past thirty years. We're far more detached from it. At least when we're walking through it. Walkmans...cell phones...iPods... People purposefully and willfully detach themselves from their own environment. And given that it's an inherently dangerous world out there (and will remain so as long as the car-centric paradigm prevails, and those who mandate priorities continue to weight things as they have in Hamilton for the past five decades), it seems folly to me for people to take this approach. And yet they do. Constantly. They abrogate their responsibility, and then effect high dudgeon when things go awry.

It's folly to ride a bike without a helmet, regardless of my age. (And while I'm at it, as a former bike technician/salesperson, the number of times I've seen people with their chin straps adjusted incorrectly...in other words, rendering the efficacy of the helmet null and void...is enough to elicit a permanent cringe.)

It's folly for me to ride a bike and believe that in doing so, I've got special powers that allow me to bend traffic laws, have things all my way...and invoke the 'Drivers are all asshats anyway!' response.

It's folly to me to ride a skateboard in the street. (But then, I'm not a teenager, I don't subconsciously regard myself as immortal, and my brain is fully developed, so I'm a little more sensible about risk-taking.)

It's folly for me not to take seriously the inherent dangers of venturing into the street...even at crosswalks.

And yet there seems to be this general tendency that I'm compelled to connect with the great scourge of the 21st century -entitlement- that renders so many people foolish. Or, folly-rich.

This morning I almost got hit...on the sidewalk...by a driver coming out of his apartment building parking lot. Mostly because, as many drivers are guilty of, he didn't check for pedestrian traffic. Didn't even give a glance my way.

Yesterday I sat and watched an adult cyclist travelling down a sidewalk, clearly wanting to take advantage of unfettered and unobstructed 'pedestrian' status, who had an altercation with someone entering traffic...because like it or not, cyclist movement registers entirely differently on the road than it does on the sidewalk. Naturally, the cyclist believed that they were in the right. (They weren't.)

Until we migrate farther along the continuum that involves the safety and welfare of pedestrians, cyclists, automobiles and trucks, we need to leave behind our arrogance and use our grey matter a little more diligently. After all, being 'right' is no accomplishment if it also involves being dead.

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