18 March 2008

Death Before Yielding

A very interesting article about the mentality of pedestrians in the Cambridge (&Somerville) area.

I found this buried in a comment section somewhere else, but I felt it was worth reposting here, both in light of yesterday and just because this is a subject of general interest.
Death Before YieldingRenewed efforts to ease the age-old blood feud among Boston’s drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians blow right past a key question: What if, deep down, we kind of enjoy the madness that transpires on our roads every day?

By Joe Keohane

I nearly killed a woman in Cambridge a few years back. I was driving at a reasonable speed through Harvard Square when she stepped off a curb and walked right into the street without looking. I hit the brakes, bringing the car to a hard stop about three feet from her. Since the woman wasn’t even in a crosswalk, I expected some acknowledgment of wrongdoing—a chagrined wave, a “my bad,” anything. Instead, I got a look that suggested I had just taken away her right to vote and buried a meat axe in her adopted greyhound. Clearly, I was the oppressor in this little tableau, and she, as the oppressed, was no longer obligated to follow the law.

The whole encounter was no doubt partly due to Cambridge’s being a monument to the ecstasy of fake victimhood, but it’s more complicated than that. This woman didn’t develop a habit of blindly forging into the middle of the street on her own. Something had to happen to make that behavior seem acceptable. My guess is that she, like many of us, had spent a lot of time marooned in a crosswalk with cars hurtling by on both sides, and at some point just said, “Ah, to hell with it. If you’re not going to recognize the crosswalk, neither am I.”
read the rest of the article here

1 comment:

Steve said...

I've always thought of the reputation of Boston drivers as a quirk to our city, but thinking about it just a bit more, it is indeed a really dangerous situation. It should be obvious to me since my family has experienced at least three incidents (some as the injured party, some as the injuring party) between, in our cases, motorist and cyclist. Even I've opened a car door into a cyclist trying to squeeze between our pulled-over car and the curb which was probably 18 inches away.

Fortunately, things are pretty safe for cyclists in the Netherlands and Berlin, while a bit more chaotic, still isn't as crazy as Boston.

I'd prefer the public transit improvements suggested by the article. It's expensive, but it winds up working pretty well. The most dangerous it got here was last week while the transit workers were on strike. Plenty of newly-frustrated drivers crowding the roads did not make things pleasant out there for anyone.