Suicidal Cyclists and Pedestrians

By Raymond Viger

The relationship between automobile drivers, cyclists and pedestrians has changed greatly over the last few years. In the previous century, the road belonged to vehicles. A pedestrian who risked sticking their foot out onto the street did so at their own risk. Bicycles skipped between the road and the sidewalk, a true calamity for both worlds.

To protect young students the government decided to establish school buses and school zones. The law had to be modified. Initially, when a school bus flashed its lights on a boulevard with three lanes in each direction separated by a concrete median, drivers in all six lanes had to stop. This created monster traffic jams in downtown areas when school buses picked up or dropped off students. The law was quickly modernized.

Then came priority zones for pedestrians and bike paths. To protect citizens and regulate cohabitation between the different ways of getting around, cars lost many of their privileges.

These days I regularly see pedestrians crossing the street, cell phone in hand, wearing earphones spitting out high volume music. These folks don’t always understand that they don’t have priority when they’re crossing the street. A pedestrian’s life depends on my ability to react fast and quickly slam on the brakes. And I hope to heck that the person in the car following me has equally sharp reflexes to avoid rear-ending me. Elsewhere, I see cyclists crossing the street without taking note of stop signs or red lights. They don’t think these things apply to them, so they just go on their merry way, no question of stopping or even slowing down.

Pedestrians and cyclists have become the kings of the road. They think their safety is the responsibility of car drivers.   

I’m just surprised that there aren’t more accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

One asset required for being a good driver is paranoia. Suppose all the pedestrians and cyclists were dumped in front of your car. Now suppose that all these people were unaware and suicidal, and that they didn’t respect the rules of the road that applied to them. Drivers are being asked to share the road. But there also has to be a sharing of responsibilities.  We have a common obligation to respect the rules that regulate all of us.

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