Maybe you are sick of me writing about this topic. I haven’t written about my frustration of Toronto’s roads since October, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t bothered me. With freezing and warming weather for months, Toronto’s streets were destroyed this winter. With spring’s arrival, finally, the people of the city are out, in cars, on bikes and on foot, and it seems that too many people forget the rules or are using any common sense.
Common sense could be it, or lack of. Could people be interpreting the rules differently than me, or are they thinking with their feet and fingers and not their brains? If you are pedaling but not thinking, there can be consequences. If you are texting and not looking up there also can be consequences. And if you are a driver who wrote your own rule book, then you may not care about the consequences.
Let’s look at some instances when clearly common sense didn’t exist, and I observed all of these cases on one day last week:
Jump across into oncoming traffic to turn left
While driving, I turned right at a green light and in front of me was a car, driving directly towards me. The driver wanted to get into the left turn lane while his light was red. But there were many cars in front of him and he couldn’t get into that left turn lane easily. His solution? Just drive on the wrong side of the road for a short time then jump into the left turn lane. Who cares if a car comes. That person can wait, in his mind. Well not in my mind. I honked him to move out of my way. He ignored me.
Honk me at an intersection
I reached the end of a side street and stopped at the stop sign. My car arrived at a busy, major street, with the intention to turn right. I looked left to wait for a break in the oncoming traffic. There were bushes blocking part of my view and I inched forward slowly. Cars kept coming. The guy behind me didn’t like that and put his hand on his horn. He was impatient. Why didn’t I go? Why didn’t I just drive my car into oncoming traffic? I could see there were cars coming. He couldn’t. No common sense. It’s better to make a right turn when the traffic clears.
Rules don’t apply to many (not all) luxury car drivers
I don’t drive a fancy car. I drive a big car, which I have sometimes compared to the Canadian Hercules airplane. My car, whose name is Amelia, is a Honda Pilot. She drives well, she’s comfortable to be in and I feel safe. But it’s not a luxury car. It’s a practical car. And I think I drive in a practical manner, following the rules and using common sense. But I have to say, based on my own observations, that’s not the case for the drivers of many luxury cars. When the light goes green, if you are driving a luxury car, it doesn’t mean you can jump out fast and turn left as oncoming traffic prepares to go straight. You must stop at stop signs just like the rest of us. Please take only one spot in the parking lot. You don’t have to park in the middle of two spots and be greedy.
Look both ways before you cross the street
I have mentioned this one before. Put your smartphone down and look up if you are walking along the sidewalk and cross the street. It’s just plain dangerous. You are thinking with your rapidly moving fingers and not your head. No common sense. Drivers (and cyclists) should be aware of you no matter what, but why put yourself at risk? And what if you are texting, not looking up and arrive at a red light? Not a good idea to walk into fast-moving traffic. Over the last week, with beautiful weather, there are many more pedestrians. So many of them are using smartphones. Please, wake up. Look up.
Also, just an added note to pedestrians at crosswalks. You have the right of way, always. Most cities have constructed good signage to alert everyone on the road of a crosswalk. There is always a button to press that lights up the crosswalk, so that drivers and cyclists know you are about to cross. Press the button before you cross. If it’s raining or foggy or really sunny out, it makes it easier for you to be seen. Why do so few people press that button?
If it says one way, it’s for cyclists too
I drive on many narrow one-way streets around the city. These streets are shared by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. A pedestrian, on the sidewalk, can walk in either direction. No problem. But cars – and bicycles – must go in the direction noted on the sign. What am I supposed to do when I am driving down a narrow one-way street and a cyclist is coming towards me, going the wrong way? I have nowhere to go. I must slow down to a crawl or stop. There’s an easy solution: follow the sign and drive – or bike – in the direction it shows. Common sense, right?
It’s really easy to use common sense, especially when traveling on a city’s roads, in a car, on a bicycle or on foot. I don’t want to honk and be angry nor do I want to be honked at. I want to share the road with all of you, and sorry if I keep complaining. Common sense. It’s that easy.