“There is nothing wrong with the world except for people misbehaving.”
Think about it; if people behaved themselves, there would be no crime, no wars. No need for armies or police.
There would be no need to lock our doors, and we could leave our car or bike anywhere unlocked.
Utopia of course; a fantasy world that will never happen.
Here is a comment on the current bikes vs. cars situation in New York City from a Jack Brown, a former bike store owner no less.
I think his words sum up the situation probably as good as any I have read.
"Cyclists can be anywhere, at any time: on the sidewalk, riding the wrong way down the street, and you have no peace. The anarchy that has been allowed to prevail is astonishing.
According to butterfly theory, according to chaos theory, I am sure that the level of emotional and psychological damage wrought by the bicycle far exceeds the damage done by cars. The cumulative effect is equivalent to what happened on 9/11."
I think the comparison to 9/11 is a little strong; however, he is talking about “Emotional and Psychological” damage, not actual physical harm being done. That cars have far more potential to do physical harm than bikes is not the issue here.
In reality pedestrians are not being mowed down in large numbers and killed or seriously injured by cyclists, but the fear that it could happen causes emotional stress; in the same way that living in a high crime area causes stress.
Like living in the constant fear that you could catch a stray bullet at any time; it the fear that is real, not the odds in your favor that you will never actually be shot.
The problem is being caused by a minority of cyclists, just as a minority of people misbehaving can turn a community into a high crime area. No one notices the dozens of cyclists riding in an orderly and proper manner along a street or bike lane.
It is the cyclist brushing past you on the sidewalk at 15 or 20 mph that you notice, or the one who blows through a red light and you don’t even see until he flashes past the hood of your car. It is not the fact that either encounter was not even that close; it is the emotional stress caused by the shock, the surprise.
The stress causes fear, a fear of what could have happened. Fear is then transformed into anger; it is the natural human way of coping. Pretty soon just the sight of a cyclist makes a person angry, and there is a loss of sympathy for the cyclist’s vulnerability. An attitude of, “If these maniacs don’t care for their own safety, why should I care?”
I don’t feel by writing here I can change the situation, anymore that I can stop wars or crime; all I can do is speak to those who do care. Half the battle is understanding the other person’s point of view, and trying to understand why some pedestrians and motorists are angry with all of us.
Know that the fear and resulting stress caused by this anarchistic minority is all too real. Fear breeds anger, and anger breeds hate.
I refuse to live my life in fear; I will not ride my bike in fear. By not riding in fear, I am not riding in anger. Knowing that the motorist’s anger towards me is basically born out of a fear that he/she might hit me, is in a small way comforting.
And by riding in a responsible and courteous manner I am soothing the fear, thereby calming the anger. It is one of the few things a responsible cyclist can do.