I remember a cartoon many years ago, or maybe it was a story or video, about a gentle, sweet, kind person who smiles at strangers when she walks down the street or he helps an elderly woman cross the road. He (or she) is the kind of person we all strive to be. But when she (or he) opens the car door and gets behind the wheel aggression and rage take over. Sweet Sadie or Gentle George become Angry Annie or Raging Robert.
This isn’t the cartoon or video I remember but it’s funny!
Maybe living in a congested city has forced so many people to keep their guard up and become aggressive when they get behind the wheel of a car. I have noticed that when I leave the city and drive even one or two hours into the countryside people are friendly and considerate. So maybe it’s a symptom of busy city life, but here, at Kinetic Motions, I am going to try to start a revolution and suggest some ways we calm Angry Annie and Raging Robert down.
These are large, red, hexagonal signs that are very clear in their message – STOP! When you approach one of these signs your vehicle needs to come to a halt. And if you arrive at a four-way stop sign, and my car arrives there first, be courteous and let me go ahead. Remember that we all learned in kindergarten to take turns?
If I can see the colour of your eyes in my rear-view mirror it means you are driving too close to my car. If my car needs to stop suddenly, for whatever reason, I need to know that your car is sufficiently behind mine to give you the time, say two or three seconds, to stop, and not hit my car. This, in my mind, pertains to highways, busy roads and even side streets. I recognize the distance between cars should be greater on fast-moving highways, but I still believe that no matter what roadway we are on you need to keep your distance.
Everyone seems to be in a rush as soon as they get behind the wheel of their car. The baby needed a diaper change right before you had to leave, you forgot your cell phone in the house and had to go back to retrieve it or your neighbour, who you do normally love chatting with, had a question for you as you unlocked your car door.
Now you are late. And there is traffic. You try to drive just a bit faster on some roads to make it to work, an appointment or a lunch date on time. You cut off cars, you tailgate others and naturally you jump stop signs. SLOW DOWN! It may be annoying for you that the City of Toronto lowered the speed limit on many residential streets from 40 to 30 km/h and that many thoroughfares also now have lower speed limits, but I support the slower speeds. We are safer if we just drive a little slower.
If traffic is moving very slowly, you are inching along the road and approaching a traffic light, please stop BEFORE you cross the intersection if your car can’t make it through. If you get stuck in the middle of the intersection when the light goes red it means the cars in the other direction can’t move, and traffic just gets worse. You may actually create a traffic jam when you grid lock. I understand the feeling of accomplishment when you just make it through a light in heavy traffic, that little adrenaline rush when you moved those extra few inches, but if you think you may get stuck in the middle of the intersection, next time, please, just wait.
Cut off Pedestrians
I have a one-year-old and live in a neighourhood with a high walk score. We are surrounded by both parks and retail and restaurants. I walk everywhere with the baby in the stroller and always have to keep my eyes peeled on the road, ready for a car to turn in front of me or jump a stop sign. Pedestrians have the right of way at intersections (assuming the person is crossing at a green light of course), but many drivers don’t notice or don’t care. The baby and I were almost rammed last week by a woman driving a large SUV, turning left, with her cell phone in her ear. She looked up and apologized when I started to yell. This one is simple: wake up and give pedestrians the right of way.
Honk If You’re Angry
Why do you need to honk your horn if I’m not going fast enough (in your opinion), if I actually stopped at the stop sign ahead of you or if I take my time to turn right at a red light? If I am ahead of your car, waiting to turn and I can see there are cars coming and you can’t because you are behind me, don’t honk me! When the intersection is clear of cars I will go and I won’t be rushed. If the lead car in a long line of cars waiting to turn left at a traffic light is just sitting there doddling when the signal turns green okay give a light honk. But you don’t have to lean down hard on the horn nor do you have to honk that car before the light even turns green.
I am sure there are many other ways to calm down Angry Annie or Raging Robert and I welcome your suggestions so that I can create an ongoing series of posts on this topic. Coming soon will also be my thoughts on the relationship between cyclists, pedestrians and drivers on our busy roads and ways for everyone to be more courteous. Please post comments and suggestions here, or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.
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