Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Motorists, Pedestrians, Cyclists, etc.

Image courtesy of Volvo Cars
For some weird reason, the people who taught me to drive a car reinforced one truism over and over: I was handling a large, heavy machine capable of dolling out great destruction and even death. Driving wasn't treated as a right but rather as the privilege that it is. I was also taught to be respectful of others' space on the roads.

People in New Mexico, where I grew up, can be fairly courteous on the roads. While you get your occasional driver who acts like he's in the Indy 500, many people will wave you in when you're trying to get into a lane from a business' driveway, etc. When I moved to Utah, one of the first things I was struck with was how incredibly rude so many people on the roads are. Being tailgated is a regular phenomena, especially if you're not traveling at least 10 mph over the speed limit. Getting cut-off because someone else realized they needed to turn left right then, and they were traveling in the right lane, because they're more important than everyone else traveling in the four lanes of traffic they cut across in less than fifty feet (as an aside, I was taught to go down the road, safely make a U-turn, and then backtrack if you miss your turn, but such behavior is for suckers who believe in safety and manners). And don't even get me started on the zero-sum game of merging in traffic in this state!

As you can imagine, with so many entitled drivers on the roads here, it can be a little... interesting for those who aren't traveling in cars. I cannot tell you how many times I've had motorists yell at me because I dared to cross a road, in a crosswalk, when they had to get somewhere (the nerve!). I've also seen plenty of motorists try to muscle cyclists, motorcyclists and people on scooters around because they are bigger and therefor always have right-of-way. Just the other day, a local news station posted on Facebook about how little kids are getting run-down in a crosswalk by their grade school because motorists aren't stopping for them. Some people had the nerve to call pedestrians in crosswalks "entitled" because apparently cars get to just keep driving if the driver feels like it. Sometimes living in a Western state where people scream about their personal freedoms above everyone else's gets a little tiresome, because it quickly crosses into selfish, reckless behaviors like running down little kids.

That being said, I have almost hit a few cyclists who have blown through stop signs and performed other unsafe maneuvers on the roads. I used to be really into cycling, mostly mountain biking, but I rode on the roads quite a bit. I'm not some anti-cyclist person and have been feeling the itch to get out there again. But there are some cyclists who think they also get to do whatever they want. One of my biggest peeves is cyclists who ride in the road, then when they get to an intersection they suddenly ride along the crosswalks like they are a pedestrian. I almost hit one the other day who pulled this maneuver as I was trying to turn right. He didn't even look at me as he just darted his bike right in front of my vehicle. Had he been a pedestrian, I would've known he was going to cross in front of my vehicle, but right before that he was behaving as a motorized vehicle. Again, it's an entitled behavior that places the individual above everyone else on the road, putting lives and property in danger.

In the end, I wish everyone on the roads around here would calm down a little. Not everyone is your competition; we are all just trying to get where we need to go. Most of us are in at least somewhat of a hurry, but that doesn't give anyone a license to drive (or ride) like a selfish douche.

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