Part 3, that’s right. I really want to think the best of Toronto drivers, but my anger on the roads lately has been bubbling. Every day, when I drive around the city, I encounter a combination of aggression, rudeness and utter stupidity. I had to write another post about it. Today’s theme is: share the road.
What do I mean by share the road in the context of this post? Every time you leave your house you travel to a destination. You may drive, walk, take public transit or cycle. At some point on your journey you are on the road, and you share it with other people in your community. I am asking everyone – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists – to really think about the word share and how we can really embrace what it means.
First of all, drivers share the road with other drivers. If we are all courteous to one another, if we follow the rules and yes, even show some kindness sometimes, I know we would be much less angry. Here are some examples:
I am driving down a busy road and approach an intersection with a green light ahead. There are no cars behind my car. If you are approaching that same intersection from the opposite direction and wish to turn left, please wait to make your turn until I am through the intersection. Why do you have to play chicken and beat me, forcing me to slam on my brakes? Or if you wish to turn right at that intersection, when you have the red light and want to go in the same direction as my car – also, please wait your turn.
Okay, maybe this is an aggressive side of me. I learned, years ago, in driving school, that a driver is supposed to gently inch into the middle of the intersection when going left at a traffic light. If you are that car in front of me at a green light, waiting to go left, it’s okay to move into the intersection while you wait your chance to turn. It means I too can go left after you. If I have to miss yet another light as I wait for you to turn left I start to become angry.
Here is another example. If I am driving down a busy two-lane street and I put on my signal, which clearly shows my intent to change lanes, why do you need to accelerate your vehicle just enough to ensure that I can’t do just that? If you slowed down a little or even just kept your same speed – and showed some courtesy – and shared the road – I would be able to change lanes. Try it some time. You will feel better.
When I talk about the importance to share the road, it’s not just about drivers sharing with other drivers. There are so many combinations of people out on the roads that I believe we should equally show courtesy to each other.
One combination that is forever butting heads: drivers and cyclists. I could write pages about this conflicting pair. I am usually a driver, but I also believe strongly in cycling. My husband usually cycles to work on busy downtown streets, and on his way to work he often cycles with my children to school. I am a strong advocate of cycling. However, I also believe that cyclists must be responsible, follow the rules of the road and share that road with drivers. Stop at a stop sign. Go the right way down a one-way street. Wear a helmet to be safe!
Drivers: when you make a right turn at a busy intersection, check first to see if a cyclist is there. Give space to a cyclist on a busy street. When you park, and open your car door, check first that the way is clear so that you don’t open your door on an oncoming cyclist. Drivers and cyclists: share the road.
Pedestrians, I haven’t forgotten about you. You need to wake up too. You need to know that while you have the right of way on the road (drivers, remember that!), you don’t own the road. Don’t cross at a red light. Look up from your smartphone when you cross the road. If the countdown clock flashes 3 seconds, it’s too late to start to cross the road. And drivers, remember that a pedestrian is a human being. If you hit that human being you could injure or even kill. Check for pedestrians when you turn right – or left – on any intersection.
Please, loyal readers, keep all this in mind the next time you leave your house and hop on the road – with your car, your bicycle or your feet. Keep words in your mind like courtesy, civility and gentility. And remember, share the road.