How’s My Driving?

I’ve heard a similar story from different people on separate occasions regarding motorist concerns for the well being of bicyclists who are riding on narrow country roads with tight corners in places with limited sight lines.  The story goes something like this.  My friends who live out in the country worry that they’ll be driving their truck one day and come around a corner and there will be a bicyclist in the road and oncoming traffic coming the other way and no time to slow or stop.  How worried they are for the cyclist.

The first time I heard this story I thought it was a commentary on ignoring responsibility for dangerous driving habits and placing the blame on someone for just being there in the way of our rushing.   I cycle the stretch of road in their story.  It is a fine country road and I have seen horses and horseriders two abreast in the lane, slow moving construction vehicles, off highway vehicles, snowmobiles crossing the road in winter, walkers, cars pulled over not quite off the road, utility workers, logging equipment, cable guys laying cable, and though I have not seen a tractor out there it seems like there could be one.  It is a quiet road and people feel at ease taking life slowly and watching wildlife.  All good reasons to drive at a controllable rate of speed especially around blind corners.  We always need to be prepared to slow and stop and adjust our speed for conditions.  That is the responsibility that comes with driving.

The second time I heard this same basic story told by a different person about a different friend on another country road it troubled me more because there was a pattern of dangerous thought here coming from intelligent people who are also bike advocates.  I shared my concern today with a friend over coffee.  He made a tremendous insight.  He said it was exceptional the motorist in each story is acknowledging they know cyclists use the road and anytime they are driving around a corner too fast they are fully aware they could possibly be endangering a cyclist.  Chilling insight into the consequences of failing to think worlds exist outside of car culture. The motorist is making a statement that they refuse to change their driving habits even though they know they are endangering their neighbors.  A strange insistence on driving like bicyclists or other road users are not there.  It is our responsibility to hold one another to the common standard of behaving in a way that coexists with all human life.  There is nothing wrong with seeing from our self interests as motorists and wanting to get to our destination easily.  All it takes to be a considerate and safer driver is to think one step ahead and incorporate the interests of others into our driving outlook, and then we’ll get to our destination quickly enough without doing damage to other people in our communities.  Live and let live.  Include the well being of others in our world view.

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