Smiles on the road

A few months ago my girlfriend faced to quite different experiences in one day.  First a guy tried to run her off the road.  Then 30 seconds later cursed her out at a traffic light when she pulled up beside him.   Later that day in the same intersection someone rolled down their window at a traffic light.  She was expecting the worst.  The driver  said ” thanks for stopping at a red light”.

The whole thing made me think about how we act on the road as bicyclists, pedestrians and even at the wheel of Zipcar.  Are there things we can do to make our fellow users feel like we’re paying attention?  Even better can we make each other smile or feel good about an interaction on the street?

To address this be-kind-to-each-other-thing, I worked with Nina Garfinkle to set up — this is a website associated with a little sticker.  The sticker is there to remind us to be kind to each othe and also hopefully generate some conversations:

What constitutes a civil street?

What’s good behavior?  When should we obey or disobey traffic laws? Is there a way to do that gracefully?  Does it matter if no one is looking (4AM)?

Yes it would be nice to figure all those things out.  In the mean time let us talk to our friends and neighbors in the street.   I hope you’ll join the conversation by getting a sticker ( and engaging your friends and fellow road-neighbors in generating more smiles as we move about.

Wear this puppy!

About mark

Urban Planner
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One Response to Smiles on the road

  1. mtalinm says:

    fabulous idea. there is so much cyclist hate directed at motorists (“cagers”) – some of it deserved – that I wonder whether we end up making life harder for ourselves.

    (note: I am not innocent and have yelled at cars more than a few times … this week)

    but I’ve been trying to be as courteous as I can: waving cars by me when I’m slow, getting out of the way whenever possible, only taking the lane when I can maintain a speed close to theirs, and waving to say “thanks” whenever someone yields to me.

    I think a “charm offensive” may yield more results than the vinegar non-cyclists often get from our community.

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