The essence of people is never so public as when people are driving their cars. I notice it a lot more now that I don’t own a car. It’s easy to see from a bike or walking along the sidewalk with no metal or glass blocking my view and no radio to distract my hearing.
There are big cars and little cars and shiny ones and filthy cars covered with dust or bird poop. There are carefully kept older cars driven by frugal people who think a large investment is worth taking care of. And there are newer cars already battered into old age by owners who obviously view the contraption as a throw-away.
I see aggression out there. Some cars are loud and rumble or whine as they pass. Some have ultra-loud stereo systems that rattle the hinges on their trunks. Some people drive with their foot full on the accelerator and drive very closely to the car in front until they have an inch of space to speed past them glaring with the contempt of the impatient and selfish. Many people are simply rude and selfish while they drive. I see people running red lights and stop lights and not caring to yield the right of way. I hear them honking their horns.
The other morning in the dark I was waiting at a stop sign properly on my bike when a man in a car came up behind me and revved his engine and flashed his headlights. He was rude. I was waiting legally for cross traffic to clear before crossing. But he didn’t care, I was on a bike, a lesser vehicle, and my presence was an inconvenience to him as he waited the ten seconds to make his right turn. He flipped me off as he rounded the corner. What a selfish person he was.
On the other hand I do see some cautious people who are doing their best not to cause an accident. But in their caution they sometimes cause others to make poor judgments trying to understand why the other person isn’t following the rules. I see people stopping for me on my bike when they have the right of way and I have the stop sign. I always wave them past, and they give me the look of the scorned gift giver. It’s not that I don’t appreciate their overture, I do, but I’d rather wait my turn than see them get rear-ended because they’re stopping where they weren’t expected to. Courtesy is unexpected on the road at times, unwelcome, and it can be dangerous if it makes someone guess what you’re doing, and they guess wrong. It is better to follow the rules, if everyone did that there’d be fewer accidents.
A man owns an Audi sports car in Woodland. It is sometimes parked in a lot along my walking route to the office. It’s a beautiful car, black and low and tapered smartly. A friend I walk with told me it is worth about a quarter of a million dollars. I suppose it would be nice to have enough money that buying such a car would not be a hardship, or at least that’s what I used to think. These days I think it’s such a waste of money.
I enjoy my bike. I love pedaling along, feeling the breeze on my face, so biting and wonderful in the early morning, so damp and hushed in the fog, so thrilling in the pre-storm winds. I wish there were streets just for reserved for bikes, that’s where I’d want my house to be. I guess riding a bike and walking says something about my ego too. I just hope I am doing both of them with a kind and considerate heart.
Photo Credit – chris gilbert