This post is about pedestrians and bicycle riders, wheel-chair riders and skateboarders, scooter riders and other people in the community not driving cars. This post wants to state the obvious at first and go on from there. People not in cars who are out there navigating the community and it’s streets and intersections are just as valuable life forms as those in cars. They deserve the opportunity to not be killed or injured unnecessarily. (the obvious).
Walking and biking in the community occasionally or regularly gives a person a non-car driving experience and perspective. Like all experiences, there are upsides and downs. A T-chart- for the researcher folks out there in terms of pros and cons. One pro for sure is thanon-car drivers get a much more proximal and visceral experience of the community and it’s neighborhoods. You experience things up close and have more time to observe and sense things more difficult to perceive when conducting a large enclosed vehicle on the road. Among the many things to see and smell and even touch are the great variety and beauty of plant and animal life.
You are also closer to and more easily sense the trash, blight, or decay that exists alongside the beauty. One thing for sure, it’s much easier to see how many people in cars are dangerously maneuvering their vehicles. They are in a rush and they seem empowered to use their vehicles in aggressive manners that (giving them credit) seems to ignore the very potentially lethal consequences of their driving. This observation is not an accusation but rather just an observation that offers the part time biker/walker moments of reflection on their own driving habits/experiences. It’s easy not to see or pay attention to non-car driving people out there crossing intersections. It’s at these intersections that non-car drivers learn the essential necessity to connect with car drivers through eye contact and other means in order to not get run over.
The patterns of civil engineering coordinating and sequencing traffic lights is also much easier to discern or forcibly discerned when not driving cars. The rhythms of the city and roadways reveal themselves more easily to the pedestrian or bike rider. As does the conditions of the roads, sidewalks, railroad crossings, buildings and other elements of man’s suburban/urban engineering.
We have designed our places for cars in many ways and often not that well for them. Down on the street, in direct contact or more proximal contact we’re more human or more fully human and we’re also much more vulnerable. Not only from the potentially lethal collisions with people driven cars but also from our sense of identity in these car dominated contexts. Me thinks that car driving people somehow think less of the pedestrians in many cases. The homeless are there too. Walking, sometimes biking, pushing carts, they are perceived as obstacles. The cars must go. Where to, I don’t know. To work? In a hurry? In a lethal hurry?
Repetition is a simple tool as is stating the obvious. Walkers, bicylers, other non-car driving people in their motility want to continue living. They deserve life. (the obvious).
Among the many pros on the T-chart is the general well being that physical activity provides the non car driver. For sure, there are aches and pains and other cons associated with non-car driving in terms of the body. The mind is also benefited by this non-car driving. Non-car driving gives us time to think/reflect and develop the inner voice. Car driving too might offer this, perhaps long car driving – commutes – but the local driving I often observe seems contextualized to make reflection quite difficult.
Well, the post is done I suppose. A reminder, non-car drivers are people. Love them, value them like you would a brand new car or truck driver. Maybe even consider affording them a little bit more. They might need it.