Cars & Bikes: Notice the majority, and be thankful for their good behavior…


I think it’s time to make a shout out for all the good things people routinely do.  

First off thanks to the courteous drivers who…

  • don’t exceed the speed limit.  

It seems like everyone’s speeding everywhere these days.  If we pay attention though, there are many people who just like to noodle along.  On two lane roads they set the speed limit for the everyone behind them.  The slower they go, the safer the road for everyone.

  • stop for pedestrians in crosswalks

There’s no better way to establish humanity than to stop for a pedestrian. Smile at them– and watch them smile in return.   Maybe a smile is not required– stopping is the critical piece.

  • stop for red lights

Cyclists get the most heat for this, but according to wikipedia, this is the second most common motor vehicle violation behind speeding.   Thanks to all you drivers who do stop for lights and don’t hit the accelerator when you see an orange.

Cyclists– Unlike motorists you’ll never get a ticket.   Everyone notices the bad cyclists, especially as the volume of cyclists is way up in many cities.  Thank you so much for…

  • riding in ways that don’t scare or anger other road users

This could mean a lot of things to different people.  There are three things that are most cited in blogs & article comments as annoying and angering people:

First is running red lights.  If you must do it… consider it only in very narrow situations.  For me it’s when two conditions prevail: First, the intersection must be completely empty with no cars in sight, and second I must be in a real rush to get where I’m going.   If there are any other road users waiting for a red light and you race through, chances are that you will anger someone.  If a cyclist is stopped at a red light and you fly by them, you can be 90% sure they are annoyed.

The second thing that encourages fear and anger among other road users is the sight of a bicyclist riding without lights at night.  Thanks very much to the vast majority of cyclists who do use lights at night.

The third and final courtesy is not riding the wrong way down a one way street.  I have to admit that sometimes this is completely unavoidable due to local conditions.  Consider dismounting and walking in these situations. 

Walkers– We are all walkers at some point– even if it’s from our vehicle to the shop. Our presence on the street makes life interesting for eveyone else.  Laws are made more for the comfort of vehicles than pedestrians, so the rules are more of the common-sense variety:

  • when in doubt, make eye contact with drivers and cyclists.  Be sure they see you.  This applies even when you are fully in the right to proceed
  • don’t be afraid to shout to get another road users attention
  • band together to fight for better pedestrian amenities.  Together we can make a difference.

For all modes–

  • Try your hardest to be happy!

Some people never get rattled.  A wise woman once told me, when you get angry, you only hurt yourself.  This not hold for every situation, but I have found it often true.  For those of you who move through the world calmly and joyfully, we thank you!

In all our own ways, we can be ambassadors for good behavior.

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About mark

Urban Planner
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