I’ve been commuting to work by several methods. Some days I drive, some days I ride my motorcycle, at least once a week I ride my bicycle. When I get here, I use whatever I’ve got to get around town, but I probably walk most distances under a mile. I’m on the road just about every way you can be on the road. Every method comes with it’s own cost/benefit ratio and every day I see some really, genuinely stupid decisions made on the roads.

The stupidity is equally distributed among the methods of access. I see cars cutting into crosswalks while pedestrians have the light, I see bicycles riding in bike lanes and then running stop signs or red lights, I see motorcycles lane splitting while traffic is flowing at stupid speeds and I’ve lost count of the number of pedestrians that have stepped into the road while looking at their phone.

I’ve also done almost all of those myself at some point and what I’ve learned from traveling by different methods is that perspective matters. I guarantee that you have done something stupid on the road and the more limited you’re travel options are, the less likely you are to have realized how dumb the decision was.

If you’re a regular driver of a car or truck, get out and really walk your route. Set aside a couple of hours to cross city streets using the walk sign, walk the beach path, try to navigate the freeway off ramps and handle construction related detours on foot. It will radically change you’re perception of those cross walk timers.

Do the same thing on a bicycle. Try to make some simple trips, places you’d go every day utilizing bike lanes that magically disappear, change position, become shared pedestrian paths or are blocked by delivery trucks. See how long it takes before you have to veer out of the bike lane to avoid kids/cars/skateboards/long dog leashes/squirrels/debris/etc. etc.

You’ll find being an occasional walker will make you a much better driver, that the infrequent bike ride will make you a more considerate pedestrian. If you can see the road from different angles, you’ll find yourself less angry, more aware and ultimately a lot safer.

That said, everyone should obey the rules of the road. At all times. Don’t double park across a bike lane or in a no parking zone. Ever. Don’t do it. It’s not “no parking unless you put on hazard lights” or “no parking unless you unload groceries” or “no parking unless it’s for a brief phone call” Don’t park where you shouldn’t.

Everyone using the roadway should top and go when the lights tell you to stop and go. Don’t shoot through a red sign or light because you think if you swerve into the cross walk suddenly you’re a pedestrian. Don’t run into the street mid-block because you’re just going right there and the cross walk is 20 feet down the road. Don’t cut into the cross walk when the little man is lit up because you think you can make it before the walkers get there.

Making smart choices means you might have to get to your destination five minutes later than you’d like but we do have to share the road, we do have to work together to get there at all. If you can’t make smart choices, if operating safely is too frustrating, there’s a Big Blue option ready and waiting to get you most places for about $2.

matt@smdp.com

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