Saturday, October 2, 2010

A societal norm that needs changing

Two things happened to me the other day, that really angered me and made me think about how our society values cars over pedestrians and cyclists.  

The first incident happened as I was roller-blading with my dog in my neighbourhood. It is a subdivision where side loops and lollipops have no sidewalks and there are very few speed limit signs (although everyone knows or should know that it is 50 km/h when not posted). I have many issues with subdivisions beyond these that you will hear about later. I was on the left-hand side of the street, where pedestrians should be when there is no sidewalk, and was starting to take an-almost hair-pin curve when a motorist coming the other way decided that he would rather hug the corner than slow down. He almost knocked me over with his side-view mirror and I was close enough to have put a nasty dent on the side of his car with an angry fist. Unfortunately, I did not..The shock, delayed my reaction too much. 

The second incident happened as I was biking home from work.   I try to actively commute to work at least one day a week in good weather. It's not an easy bike ride either. Twelve kilometers one-way doesn't seem like a lot but when you factor in a fair number of hills, construction,  and negotiating your way through motorists that are not used to sharing the roadways with cyclists, it ends up being a good mental and physical work-out. You'll hear a lot about active commuting in later posts. I was coming to a busy four-way stop and was in the left-most lane as I planned to continue straight. A woman driving a camry passed me on the left then cut me off to turn right. Once she was in front of me, she braked. I almost went through her back windshield; good thing my reaction time was quick this time and that I had decent brakes!
Motorists need to slow down, watch out, and respect pedestrians when driving in residential areas. A residential area is a place where people are allowed to be out and about WITHOUT their cars, trying to 'reside'. It is seemingly the last place where people can use the roadways for exercise or leisure and feel reasonably safe. Ignorant motorists are ruining this last haven. Motorists need also to respect cyclists and share the road with them. It is clear, that in order for transportation to be sustainable, motorists should no longer be given top priority on our roadways.    

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