Janet (j4) wrote,

Road to nowhere

The other day I posted about cycling, and included a fairly content-free gripe about the stupid things I see other road users do. Now it sometimes seems to be assumed that when cyclists say "other road users" in that tone of voice they mean car drivers; in fact, I meant exactly what I said: other people who use the roads. That's car drivers (and bus/lorry/milk-float/whatever drivers), cyclists, motorcyclists (though as mentioned I don't see many of those actually), walkers, joggers, pigeons (a very real hazard on Cornmarket), and anyone or anything else that has occasion to stray into the road (if the towpath counted as the 'road', I'd have to include dogs, ducks and geese). All of them do stupid things sometimes. Especially the pigeons, though they have the excuse of having a brain the size of a pea.

Sometimes I feel as though I resent the car drivers most: they're handling a more dangerous vehicle so they should be paying more attention; they're using up fuel and polluting the air as well as doing idiotic things on the roads. Other times I feel more angry with the cyclists, because by doing stupid and dangerous things they're giving the car drivers more reason to be annoyed at "those bloody cyclists", which makes them more likely to treat me badly and/or assume I'm going to do stupid things. (Some days I just resent everybody for existing in my airspace, but that's not so much to do with what they're actually doing, more to do with being a morning-hating grouch.)

I don't have a long daily commute, and most of it is on the towpath rather than the roads, and other than that I only potter around town a bit, so you'd think I wouldn't have time to see much idiocy on the roads... but I do. I don't want to make this into a series of ranty anecdotes about individual incidents, even though that would probably make a more lively blog post: those sort of incidents just make me angry (both at the time & when I remember them), and recounting them generates more ranty anecdotes from other people, and I'm not convinced that's healthy (particularly after reading in 59 Seconds about studies showing that actually letting all your rage out increases your anger rather than dissipating it). However, here's a list of things that I encounter often enough to annoy me:

All road users:

* going through red lights
* failing to signal
* failing to look before pulling out in front of people
* overtaking too close and/or cutting back in front too soon
* overtaking on blind bends
* cutting the corner when turning into side-roads, so they're on the wrong side (i.e. my side)
* texting while driving/cycling
* tailgating


* going far too fast for the conditions
* honking their horns unnecessarily
* going into box junctions when their exit isn't clear, & blocking the junction
* reversing onto main roads
* parking in cycle lanes
* parking on double yellow lines
* parking on pavements
* opening doors into traffic without looking
* flashing their lights to say 'go ahead' when they can't actually see if it's safe to do so


* squeezing past cars/buses on the left when there is clearly no room
* overtaking cyclists on the left when they're approx 1m from the kerb
* cycling on pavements
* not using lights after dark
* using misleading lights (orange/red on the front)


* not looking where they're going AT ALL, EVER
* ... and also not listening, because they've all got headphones on
* pressing the button for pedestrian crossings and then running across in traffic anyway

The response to this sort of list is often along the lines of "oh come on, nobody's perfect"; but a lot of these things are really not difficult to avoid (e.g. it doesn't require some kind of saintlike disposition or superhuman willpower to decide that you're going to stop at red lights). Some could be attributable to lapses of concentration, which we're surely all guilty of from time to time; on the other hand, I don't think of myself as a particularly focused person, & I still don't forget to signal -- it's habit, it's just part of what you do when you're changing lane/direction, it doesn't require "concentration" as such, it just requires me to have my hands free (not e.g. texting, smoking, drinking coffee, holding an umbrella, doing my hair, holding a handbag, or putting my hands in my pockets). The majority of these things seem to boil down to not thinking about other road users: sometimes that's a lapse of concentration, but often I think it's more of a general attitude.

I feel like a blog post should have a punchline or a moral or some kind of conclusion, but the main conclusion I can draw from this, really, is that people do dumb things.
Tags: cycling, nablopomo, traffic
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